By Alexandra E. Petri
The marine invertebrate, which is known as a living fossil, was filmed in Thailand.
Beauty gets better with age, and these sea animals are mesmerizing proof.
Feather stars are a type of marine invertebrate with featherlike arms that radiate from a central body. They date back about 200 million years, says Tomasz K. Baumiller, a professor of paleontology at the University of Michigan.
“Feather stars are thought of as living fossils,” Baumiller says. “They have a tremendous diversity that traces its roots deep down in the geological past.”
These animals inhabit a broad geographical range, from the Equator to the poles, and from the shallow waters on top of reefs to the depths of the ocean. In particular, the western edge of the Pacific around Asia is a “cradle of diversity” for feather stars, Baumiller adds.
Pro diver Els van den Eijnden from the Netherlands shot the above video of the swimming feather star in Thailand.
Not all feather stars can swim. Many species are only able to crawl along the bottom. There are a few theories about the reason behind the swimming adaptation, including to escape from predators or to more easily relocate.