Common Comet Star, Linckia guildingi

The common comet star (Linckia guildingi), also known as the green Linckia or Guilding’s sea star, is a species of starfish that is classified within the Ophidiasteridae family. It can be found in many tropical areas including the Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. Recent studies of this species have shown that it may be a living representation of many cryptic species. It is typically brown, red, or green in color and has a small disk shaped body with four to six long arms. The surface of its body holds many rough nodules, although it does appear to be smooth.

The common comet star is known to practice autonomy, a habit in which an animal will detach a piece of its body. It will typically detach one or more arms, although this does not occur as often as in other species within its range, such as Linckia multifora. These detached arms, known as comets, will change into adult individuals. This type of asexual reproduction is slow, with the madreporite forming after six months and maturity being reached at about ten months.

Image Caption: Common comet star, or Guilding’s sea star (Linckia guildingi) at the Natural History Museum in London. Credit: EmÅ‘ke Dénes/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)