Monday, 24 April 2017

Sea Urchins Launch Their Weird Mobile Jaws to Scare Predators

By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor | April 24, 2017 07:08am ET

A common and colorful sea urchin has some truly bizarre appendages that seem to move independently from its body, and now scientists know why: It shoots these tiny, venomous jaws into the water to deter predators.

These teensy, toothy jaws are called pedicellariae, and when scientists discovered them in the early 1800s, they thought the jaws were parasites because they seemed to move independently from the urchin. Now, researchers find that urchins use their pedicellariae not only to defend themselves when attacked, but also as a warning to fish and other sea creatures to "stay away!"

Tripneustes gratilla, otherwise known as the collector urchin, is a widespread species found in shallow waters in the Bahamas, the Indo-Pacific region and even the Red Sea.


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