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Brittle and Basket Stars: Ophiuroidea

Physical Characteristics

Brittle and basket stars are sea animals that have long, thin, flexible arms. The bottom of the arms is covered with sucking tube feet. The arms of brittle stars are easily broken. The arms of both types of stars have a skeleton that looks like a string of small bones. Most brittle and basket stars have five arms, but a few species of brittle stars have six or seven arms. The arms of basket stars have as many as twenty branches. Basket stars are larger than brittle stars, their arms reaching a length of 28 inches (70 centimeters) and the body being as large as 6 inches (14 centimeters) across. The mouth of brittle and basket stars is on the bottom of the body and is framed by five jaws bearing spiny teeth. At the base of each arm are slits that are openings for pouches used for obtaining oxygen and, in some species, for releasing eggs and sperm.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceJellyfish, Sponges, and Other Simple AnimalsBrittle and Basket Stars: Ophiuroidea - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Dwarf Brittle Star (amphipholis Squamata): Species Accounts, Tropical Brittle Star (ophiactis Savignyi): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BASKE