A new study shows that baby starfish look innocent and cute, but they are little cannibals, eating their siblings for their own survival.
Two researchers found this behavior in the starfish of Forbes babies (Beibei Standard) Accidentally. They initially tried to understand the reaction of the baby starfish after being introduced to the fierce crab predator in the laboratory.
“But we didn’t even bring in crabs, they started eating each other. So we had to cancel this experiment,” said Jon Allen, associate professor in the Department of Biology at William and Mary. Said in a statement. Therefore, Allen and his team shifted gears to observe previously unknown phenomena in baby starfish.
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Forbes starfish are usually found on the east coast of the United States, and can reach 4.7 to 9.4 inches (11.9 to 24 cm) in adult length. According to National Geographic. Allen said that Juvenile Starfish is basically a foolish version of his parents. These starfish undergo a process called “metamorphosis”, in which they transform from immature forms to adult forms, just as caterpillars become butterflies.
Karina Brocco French, a PhD student at the University of California, Irvine, said: “These starfish look like “weird little spaceships” flying over the water in the form of immature larvae.) Brocco French said in a statement that they are in This strange little spacecraft stayed in the stage for about a month, then metamorphosed into a young starfish, and then settled on the bottom of the sea.
Scientists already knew that larvae on the bottom of the sea would eat much smaller larvae that sank to the bottom, but they did not realize that the larvae would eat each other. The statement said that despite the fact that the juveniles are roughly the same size, the larger juveniles will eventually eat the smaller juveniles.
French and Allen discovered that baby starfish engage in this cannibalism as early as four days after the metamorphosis. In doing so, they used one of their multiple stomachs, the “heart stomach”, and pushed it out to engulf and break down the food.
Allen said that sibling cannibalism may give a single star an adaptive advantage, especially since adult female starfish lay 5 to 10 million eggs each year.
The statement said that although this behavior is unknown in this species, cannibalism is not uncommon in the animal kingdom, and more than 1,300 species (including humans) have recorded such behavior. Researchers believe that cannibalism may be more common in small animals, including juveniles.
The results of the study were published in the journal on March 26 Ecology.
Originally published in “Life Science”.