The Taxonomy of a Starfish
By: Destini Black

What is taxonomy?

Taxonomy is the study of classifying organisms. There are 7 levels and each level gets more specific about the organism. The 7 levels are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. Scientist name organisms by putting the genus and the species name together.

Taxonomy of a Starfish

Kingdom: Animalia- Organisms are eukaryotic and multicellular. They rely on other organisms for nutrients which makes the heterotrophic. They also reproduce sexually and asexually.

Phylum: Echinodermata- Organisms in this phylum have tube like feet. They are 100% marine animals. Additionally they have arms in multiples of 5.

Class: Stelleroidea- In this class, organisms have star-liked bodies due to growth of arms. Organisms grow by how much they eat, instead of age. They can produce up to 2,500,000 eggs in a life time.

Order: Forcipulatida- This order contains sea stars. These organisms mostly feed on mollusks.

Family: Asteriidae- These organisms are found in northwest Atlantic Ocean in shallow waters.

Genus: Asterias- This genus grows up to many inches in diameter. In addition to this unique size, they can grow external parts back in time.

Species: Forbesi- This type of starfish is the fastest. When in calm ocean water, it can move to 15-20 cm per minute. When under attack, it moves 25-35 cm.

Where are starfish found?

Life of a Starfish

Although starfish live under water, the are not "fish". They do not have gills, fins nor scales. They also move differently than fish. Like feet, their tubes help them move around.

There are over 1,800,000 types of starfish. They all have different shapes, grow to different sizes and are also different colors. The colors are mainly brown, pinkish orange, and also a tan brown.

Depending on the type of starfish, skin feels like leather or prickly. This is due to the small spines in the starfish body. Spines are used for protection from predators like birds, fish, and sea otters.

Have you ever wondered where their eyes are? The eyes are located at the end of each arm. Eyes look like tiny red dots. They do not pick up much detail but they can sense light and dark.


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