Welcome to feather stars and friends! This blog will explore the fascinating diversity of feather star crinoids and the many animals that live with them. These associates include crabs, shrimps, clingfish, snails, and worms–many of which ‘mimic’ specific feather star hosts. This system is therefore ideal for studying symbiosis, especially from an evolutionary perspective.
Here is a brief overview of the fantastic animals that will be featured on this blog:
Crinoid echinoderms are marine animals that live throughout the world’s ocean. They are mainly found attached to rocks or corals, but a few are also found on soft sandy-sediment. They possess vivid and varied color patterns and can be found in high abundances. Many crinoids provide habitat to other animals.
Photo note: Although they look like beautiful flowers, crinoids are ANIMALS!
Many different types of crustaceans live on crinoid echinoderms, mainly feather stars. These include squat lobsters, snapping shrimp, true crabs, and pontininnae shrimp. The squat lobsters and snapping shrimps live near the mouth and cirri of the crinoid (cirri are what feather stars use to hang on). The other shrimps and true crabs tend to live in the arms of the feather star.
Some of the most interesting associates of crinoid echinoderms are myzostome worms. They steal food from the crinoid and come in many forms–free-living, in galls or cysts, or as internal parasites. Scaleworms are also found regularly on crinoids.
More details on all of these groups to come. Please let me know anything that you would especially like to learn more about!