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You are here:   Species List¬†>¬†Macrophiothrix | Amber Dearden




Macrophiothrix sp.  Brittle star

‚ÄčAmber Dearden 2014                                                     


Fact Sheet



Physical Description


Life History & Behaviour

Anatomy & Physiology

Evolution & Systematics

Biogeographic Distribution

Conservation & Threats

References & Links


Brittle stars, or Ophiuroidea, of the Echinodermata phylum, are a diverse and very common group of Eleutherozoans. They have long, slender snake-like arms which have given rise to the nickname ‘serpent stars’. Brittle stars are a very common marine organism which inhabit a vast array of environments from shallow pools to abyssal depths. You would be hard-pressed not to run into these highly adapted creatures on a trip to the sea.

Most species have 5 arms centered around a pentagonal or circular shaped disc, although some may have up to 7 or 8 arms.

Known for their fragile nature, they become brittle when handled and this may cause them to discard an arm or two, however they possess regenerative properties which allow them to grow back any lost limbs.

Of the ~65 or so species listed for Macrophiothrix, many share a large resemblance to one another, external and internal (, Hoggett, 1991).
This makes them tricky to identify, and there have been many mislabelled specimens in the past (Hoggett, 1991). Due to this, the specimen used for this study was unable to be identified down to species level, so instead, this page will focus on the characteristics of the whole Macrophiothrix genus. 

They bear some similarities to the closely related asteroids, with their radial symmetry and generally, 5 arms.