When on the beach, sometimes you can see a starfish on the beach. Assuming it was brought by the tides of the water, if a starfish is able to be pushed by water, how does it survive in the water that is pushing it around?

Well, Starfish are actually quite strong. Their anatomy is essentially a central disk which grows out arms, commonly 5, that have spikes on them.  They have an endoskeleton consisting of many ossicles, made of Calcite,  which strongly boost the structural integrity of the starfish.  But to understand the strength of a small starfish, we need to look into the ossicles and calcite that make up a starfish. This is helpful to humans as starfish have inspired ideas like hydraulic movement.

Simple Sea Star Body Plan

Since Calcite, made of carbons and calcium, make up the ossicle, the integrity of a starfish is dependent upon the placements of carbon molecules. Similar to a diamond, the carbon molecules of the starfish are strongly bonded by covalent bonds, giving strength to each surface. Diamonds are one of the hardest structured natural material. More so, each calcite in the ossicles resemble a stack of carbon hexagons. Because calcite cannot be uniformly bonded, pushing on areas of a starfish will break these calcite bones. Although the starfish does have its integral flaws, the diamond-like structured ossicles make up for most of it. The strongly covalent bonds of carbon atoms create a mesh-like surface and hold the starfish together.

By studying the starfish’s simple yet complex anatomy, we may be able to make breakthroughs for “creating stronger porous materials” like ceramics says Material Scientist Ling Li at Virginia Tech. Starfish seem frail and pushed upon, by the water, but in reality, starfish are strong predators which root from their complex anatomy.

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