Crown of Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci)
Starfish are rather interesting, but this one seems to beat them all. This starfish is named the Crown of Thorns Starfish due to its venomous thorns that cover its body. The name comes from the crown that was forced upon Jesus's head in the Bible.
Physical Description and Behavior
The functionality of this starfish is not any different from that of any other starfish. It still has a central body with arms rotating around it which is used to pull apart shells and eat the innards. That said, This one does have a more disc-shaped body and many more arms, up to 23 to be specific.
All over the top of its usually deep purple body are long sharp spines. Outside of these spines, the rest of the body is soft and squishy. Once you take it out of the water, the starfish will start to leak body fluids and will become limp. If this does not kill the starfish, putting it back underwater will allow it to stiffen back up again.
All starfish have saponins known as asterosaponins in their body tissues. However, they have no way of injecting this toxin into the flesh of other animals. That said, the Crown of Thorns Starfish can puncture soft skin, causing some of the tissue to get lost in the wound. This can cause sharp burning pain for a few hours and can leave the skin swollen for weeks.
Habitat and Location
This starfish can be found near the equator in basically every continent. This includes from the southern tip of Africa, all the way up to where India is, all the way across Australia to New Zealand, and up to the shores of Japan. Some can even be found in Hawaii and the shores of Central and South America.
Learn more about this starfish in the video below: