Scientists Photograph Starfish That Looks Just Like Ravioli
Remember back in July when the internet went into meltdown over a starfish that looked just like Patrick from Spongebob?
No? Oh, well, we've got another one for you today anyway. Only this time the starfish resembles a piece of ravioli - god bless the Internet.
While a sea creature that looks like stuffed pasta might not sound like much to you, for a science team on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Okeanos Explorer, finding one of these fellas was a big deal.
The ship, which is currently operating off the southeast coast of the United States, is carrying the team members who are hard at work studying coral and other marine life.
And to commemorate their ongoing discoveries, Smithsonian and sea life expert Chris Mah published a blog post to highlight five unusual species of star-shaped critters they've encountered along the way, including our pillowy friend pictured above.
Chris wrote: "One of the sea star species we've encountered most frequently so far has been this goniasterid sea star, Plinthaster dentatus, sometimes called a 'cookie' or 'ravioli' star!
"This species stands out because the arms and disk are nearly confluent, thus presenting a more pentagonal shape relative to other sea stars.
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"This species has been recorded in many trawl-collected specimen records in the past, but perhaps what makes our observations of this species here SO significant is the numerous FEEDING observations that have been made.
"On one dive, we observed some very large individuals of this species perched on the surface of numerous glass sponges."
You learn something new everyday. And the excitement didn't end there, as an enthused Chris went on to announce the first-ever live sighting of a sthenaster emmae.
This species was first described by Chris himself back in 2010, after originally being collected by a biologist named Martha Nizinski. However, up until this point it had never been studied alive.
"This species was hypothesized to be a coral predator when I described it based on fragments found in its gut," added Chris, "but now we have solid evidence of this species feeding on a primnoid octocoral! This was the FIRST time it's been seen alive!"
Look at the repeated use of exclamation marks in Chris' account - the dude couldn't be more stoked to have found one of these sea stars.
Honestly though, we're more fascinated by the ravioli dude. I wonder what it feeds on. Spinach and ricotta? Or perhaps chorizo and mozzarella?
Featured Image Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
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