Editor's Picks

07 September 2011

Amazing facts: Starfish and Nervous System

Allah almighty had created many creatures to Glorify Him and to let us think in its marvelous creation as evidence on the oneness of God who says:

"The Work of Allah, Who perfected all things" [Quran 27:88]

A strange creature feeds on Coral reefs, it is the Starfish.  Allah supported that creature with protrusions to clinging on the coral to be able to catch small fishes and fine sea organisms. It has hands and mouth with no brain and there are more than 1500 species of that creature, some of which have 5 legs and some have more than that.

Starfish dissection

  • sieve plate- off-center of front side- that connects the water vascular system with the external ocean water
  • skin gills- for respiration
  • Tube feet- used for gas exchange, for movement, for opening mollusks
  • Mouth- center of ventral plate
  • ampulla- The bulb at the top of the tube foot (it's actually inside the starfish, but it's easier to see this way)
  • anus- to get rid of waste
  • Gonad- (looked like humus)- located at the base of each arm under the digestive glands
  • Coelom- where organs are found
  • Digestive gland- (looks like Dijon mustard)- pairs of chambered glands
  • Eyespot- at the tip of the arms or rays
  • Pyloric stomach- under central plate (no intestine) but there is a small rectal caecae
  • Rectal caecae- for temporary storage of waste
  • Pyloric ducts- where digestive enzymes from the digestive gland are carried to the pyloric stomach
  • Cardiac stomach- on the side of the pyloric stomach- multilobed
  • ambulacral grooves- connect to tube feet
  • genopores- which sperm and eggs are released from
  • Pedicellaria- clean serface - napper-like skeletal elements that are used by the echinoderm to keep small organisms from settling on its body

Starfish are unusual among animals for a variety of reasons. One important reason is their radial symmetry — they don't have a "front" or "back" end. Probably for this reason, they haven't concentrated the tissues of their nervous system into any kind of central body — that is, they have no brain.

The central nervous system of a starfish consists of a radial nerve running the length of each ray and a circumoral ("around the mouth") nerve ring that connects the radial nerves. Contrary to what you might expect, the nerve ring doesn't seem equipped to do any kind of processing of information. Instead, all the sensory information must go to the radial nerves, any memories must be stored in the radial nerves, and any decisions about what to do must be made in the radial nerves. And somehow, the five different radial nerves must coordinate those decisions if the starfish is going to get anywhere.

The best theory is that some sensory information is shared between the different rays (it is unclear how much, or how far it goes), and that the rays can inhibit each other — that is, one ray can take charge of the whole starfish for a time. When moving, this seems likely to be the arm in front of the starfish. When trying to locate an odor, the ray sensing the odor most intensely seems to be the one which takes charge, directing movement in its own direction.

Despite this odd arrangement, starfish seem to get along fine. Not only can they locate food and mates, they also can learn to associate particular textures of substrate (gravel vs. sand, for example) or levels of illumination (light or dark) with the presence of food. (Feeding behaviors are the easiest to train and observe, so most learning experiments have concentrated on these.) They also can distinguish different odors and learn to ignore those which are not associated with food. (In these experiments, the researchers gave clay tablets the smell of the starfish's normal prey and found that the starfish quickly learned to ignore them.) Their ability to thrive with such an odd nervous system is a reminder that our way of thinking may not be the only way.

You have to know that if someone cut a one leg of that creature, another leg will grow up and replaces the old one, and the disconnected leg produces another creature …..

Allah almighty had supported that creature with nervous cells on legs to be used in detection, realization, smelling, tasting and to distinguish darkness from light.

Glory to Allah who guides this creature in the darkness of seas and fits all methods to get its livelihood, God be He blessed and exalted says:

"And so many a moving (living) creature carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower "[Quran 29:60]

see videos below:

By: Abduldaem Al-Kaheel

The American encyclopedia: Encatra

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