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Aug 2, 2022
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fallen stars

fallen stars

It is possible that these inhabitants of the hydrocosmos, starfish, perfectly see their celestial namesakes at night from the bottom of the sea, since at the ends of their rays there are eyes that are much more sensitive to light than ours.

True, starfish, like flies and snails, are completely deaf. But it seems that deafness does not in the least interfere with these phlegmatic creatures in their serene leisurely life.

THOUSANDS OF PERSONS

On the fifth day of creation, starfish scattered over the seas-oceans, preferring exclusively salty, calcium carbonate-rich waters.

While not suffering from the star disease characteristic of people, they are nevertheless by no means indifferent to their own star image. Perhaps only this can explain such a great (thousands and thousands) variety of species of these animals. Moreover, even within the same species, each star strives to be unlike any of its compatriots. For example, in the Far East there is a very beautiful star patiria of bright blue color with orange spots. And this spotted pattern is unique: no two stars are the same.

Many sea stars, like our Kremlin ones, are five-pointed. But on the underwater podium you can see models showing four, six, seven and even twenty magnificent rays. All were outdone by small stars, from tiny, the size of a coin, the disk of which extends to fifty thin, elegant rays. These extravagant women of fashion live at great depths, as if not wanting to shock the rest of the representatives of the star tribe with their outfits. Others consider such pretentious many-sidedness a sign of bad taste, and therefore they try not to look like stars: they rather look like a loaf of bread with five tiny, barely noticeable protrusions along the edges. Their domain is coral reefs.

WHERE IS MY STOMACH?

Most starfish are predators, feeding on live prey. Interestingly, when meticulous oceanologists looked into the stomach of a starfish to determine who she dined with, they were surprised to find that the stomach was empty. Numerous experiments on other species gave the same result.

But after a while, scientists managed to solve this riddle. An amazing fact: it turns out that a starfish, having a stomach with very thin walls, does not carry it in itself, but with it, like a bag! Wishing to kill the worm, she slowly turns her digestive unit literally inside out and covers with it, like five, the nearby provisions. The stomach immediately gets to work, and the star itself lies calmly at this time somewhere on a nearby stone and melancholy watches the process from the side.

This small processing plant of a marine animal is so thin, elastic and truly ubiquitous that a star can stick it even into a tiny (tenth of a millimeter) hole in the shell of a mussel, through which the mollusk releases the thinnest thread to attach to the stone. It is through this hole, invisible to the human eye, that the star’s stomach penetrates the mussel shell and … digests the mollusk in its own home.

LAWS OF HYDRAULICS

After the ancient primitive worms, the starfish, apparently, can be considered the first of those animals who use hydraulics in the struggle for life.

On each of its rays there are hundreds of legs, each of which is a thin tube with a small suction cup at the outer end. At the other end of this tube, located in the body of an animal, a tiny pear is fixed, filled as needed with sea water. The pear shrinks, and all the water from it is injected into the flaccid leg, which immediately straightens, tenses and sticks to the mussel shell. The strength of the grip is also ensured by the mucus in the sucker, which immediately dries up.

After the star clasps the shells of the mollusk on both sides, both animals merge in a “friendly” embrace – you literally cannot spill them with water. The star begins to stretch the wings of the mussel with the strength of his muscles. She doesn’t have much power, though. This animal is, in fact, one naked calcareous skeleton built from calcium carbonate dissolved in sea water. That is why, neither in the sea nor on land, no one has a gastronomic interest in it, which ensures a completely trouble-free existence for the starfish.

Mussel is much stronger than its opponent. But the echinoderm hunter has an absolutely priceless quality – she never gets tired, because her tensile forces are based on hydraulics. The star stretches the shells of the mollusk until it exhales. This martial art can last for a long time, sometimes for several days. But the star is in no hurry. And the outcome of the duel is always the same: the mussel flaps eventually diverge, the stomach sticks inward and – goodbye, mollusk!

Veniamin Lachinov.

Photo: ADOBESTOK

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