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Brittle and Basket Stars: Ophiuroidea

Behavior And Reproduction

Many brittle and basket stars move by powerful arm strokes that lift their bodies and thrust them forward. Other species slither along the bottom. Brittle stars are good climbers and can cling to rocks or coral above the sea floor. Brittle stars break off their arms or parts of their bodies to escape from predators. The lost body parts grow back.

Most brittle and basket stars have separate sexes. Eggs and sperm are released into the water through the slits at the bases of the stars' arms. After uniting with sperm, the eggs develop into larvae (LAR-vee), which are animals in an early stage that change form before becoming adults. The larvae drift freely in the water eating microscopic animals and then transform into young stars. In some species eggs that have united with sperm develop into larvae that do not feed and quickly transform into young stars. In other species the fertilized eggs develop directly into young stars.

Some species of brittle and basket stars make both eggs and sperm, and the eggs unite with sperm and develop in pouches at the bases of the female's arms. Other species use both sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction by splitting. Asexual (ay-SEK-shuh-wuhl) means without the uniting of egg and sperm for the transfer of DNA from two parents.

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