Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trenches: Death Stars vs. Sea Stars! (thank you again Paris!)

A hearty BONJOUR from Paris! Where Echinoblog returns to blog from a research trip at the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle! 
Yes.. Echinoblog has returned to its yearly soujourn to the City of Lights! My apologies for having been remiss over the last couple of weeks. Between jet lag, research visit activities and how shall we say... "current events" things have been distractingly busy!

I am finishing up my time in Paris..but thought I would leave you with some cool collection/starfish related thoughts, especially as I've had some Star Wars on the brain lately! 

A friend of mine pointed out the interesting similarity between the animals I study AND some of the details on everyone's Imperial Planet Killing space station-the Death Star! 

For example, the giant offset planet-laser on the Death Star? 

DOES seem to show the same kind of off-set position on a starfish! It IS one of the first things you notice about the disk when you look at it!

BUT it DID occur to me that comparing the deadly equatorial trench from the Death Star DOES present a nice analog for sharing some curious characteristic starfish parts that one does not normally think about! 

Just to give one a quick frame of reference we are looking of course at TUBE FOOT GROOVES which project AWAY from the mouth
starfish patterns

Its normal for the tube foot groove to have defense or other kinds of structures right on the edge of the "trench"

In some groups, we see more... pronounced structures that one might compare with the anti-fighter craft on the Death Star's surface..
and INDEED, there are often tiny, biting animals... crustaceans and sometimes other animals that attack the "soft parts" (i.e., the tube feet) which project from the tube foot groove.

Macro of Starfish Underside
and so yes, there is a bit of a comparison between small rebel attack fighters and annoying little, bitey crustaceans trying to take a bite out of tube feet..
Henry Doorly Zoo - Sea Star

Man the embattlements! Turbo lasers to the defense! Starfish don't QUITE have the anti-X-wing capabilities of the Death Star but what they DO have....

Its not QUITE clear what pedicelllariae do however. They look jaw or even clam-shaped, sometimes with numerous teeth on each piece.

These look more analogous to "turbo lasers" in that they are extended well off the surface of the starfish's body.

Probably the most obvious part of having all these spines on the tube foot groove is the ability of those spines to CLASP shut. You would think that the Death Star engineers would have come up with something comparable.
Underside of a Starfish
and with that.. I'll see all of you back on the other side of the pond!