This phylum is divided into five classes: Asteroidea (sea stars), Ophiuroidea (brittle stars), Echinoidea (sea urchins and sand dollars), Crinoidea (sea lilies or feather stars), and Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers) (Figure 15.32).
Perhaps the best-known echinoderms are members of the class Asteroidea, or sea stars. They come in a large variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, with more than 1,800 species known. The characteristics of sea stars that set them apart from other echinoderm classes include thick arms that extend from a central disk where organs penetrate into the arms. Sea stars use their tube feet not only for gripping surfaces but also for grasping prey. Sea stars have two stomachs, one of which they can evert through their mouths to secrete digestive juices into or onto prey before ingestion. This process can essentially liquefy the prey and make digestion easier.
View this video(http://openstaxcollege.org/l/echinoderm2) to explore a sea star’s body plan up close, watch one move across the sea floor, and see it devour a mussel.
Brittle stars have long, thin arms that do not contain any organs. Sea urchins and sand dollars do not have arms but are hemispherical or flattened with five rows of tube feet, which help them in slow movement. Sea lilies and feather stars are stalked suspension feeders. Sea cucumbers are soft-bodied and elongate with five rows of tube feet and a series of tube feet around the mouth that are modified into tentacles used in feeding.
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