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This delicate feather star is resting on a piece of coral.
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Windows Original, adapted from Corel Photography

Echinoderms

The most widely known echinoderm is the sea star, or starfish. But sea urchins, sea lilies and brittle stars are also echinoderms.

Sea lilies and feather stars are two types of echinoderm. These delicate creatures are very beautiful, with several arms stretching out from the center. Echinoderms don't have a head, instead they appear to be groups of legs tied together at the middle!

Sea stars are widely known due to their famous shape. It is a common belief that they all have five legs, but that is actually not the case. The Eleven-armed Sea Star has, you guessed it, eleven legs. Regardless, sea stars can be spotted on rocks, sand, mud or reefs. They come in a variety of colors, and sizes.

Sea stars are very weird. They invert their stomachs to feed on molluscs and other invertebrates, and they can grow back any legs they may lose!

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Traveling Nitrogen is a fun group game appropriate for the classroom. Players follow nitrogen atoms through living and nonliving parts of the nitrogen cycle. For grades 5-9.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF