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Comb Sea Star Video Stock Footage
The upper surface of the comb star is a dark purplish colour, while the underside is orange. On the upper surface paxillae, (Latin, "little stakes") little pillars with flattened summits, are cream, grey or brown, the colours sometimes making a chevron pattern. Along the edges of the five arms there is a fringe of long, sharp marginal spines, usually with brown bases and pale tips. The arms are fairly broad and have a maximum length of 9 centimetres (3.5 in). The tube feet are pointed rather than having suckers, an arrangement that is more suitable for digging. Astropecten polyacanthus can be confused with Archaster spp. which look similar because both have developed features to enable them to dig through sand through convergent evolution. Archaster has spines that are flat and blunt and on its upper surface has parallel, radial rows of plates while Astropecten polyacanthus does not. Astropecten polyacanthus contains the potent neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, also known as TTX which has no known antidote. In a case of paralytic poisoning in Japan it was found that the victim had eaten a trumpet shell, Charonia lampas, which had acquired the toxin through its food chain, thus implicating Astropecten polyacanthus. In a study that followed this incident, most of the 54 comb stars assayed contained TTX, with one individual having a toxicity score of 520 mouse units per gram.
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