Our most popular post from our Blogger days did not fair so well in the migration to SB and Movable Type. I am reposting it here now for posterity.
A relative of the starfish, crinoids are neither abundant nor well understood. Also known as "sea lilies" or "feather stars" the strange creatures consist of a mouthpart, feeding arms and generally have a stem that connects them to the sea floor. Scientists have long known that crinoids were capable of moving themselves, albeit at a very slow pace, to outmaneuver predators such as sea urchins. Their fastest speed had been clocked at .6 meters per hour, which means their entire existence is probably a lot like one of those dreams where you are being chased by something but can only move in slow-motion. However, researchers viewing the sea floor in a submersible off Grand Bahama recorded astonishing footage of a stemmed crinoid practically galloping along the ocean floor.
Insert Chariots of Fire theme here
Sea-lily or feather-star, Neocrinus decorus, in normal feeding posture. Longer and grainier version of the video.
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Hurray for radial symmetry. Cool clip.
According to the palaeo-electronica article they were capable of speeds of 10 mm/s to bursts of 30 mm/s, as opposed to speeds of 0.1 mm/s recorded beforehand. Granted that little fellow is only moving at about 1/4 of a mile per hour (has the animated .gif been sped up?), it still is amazing that an animal can unexpectedly move at a couple orders of magnitude faster than previously known.
And is it just me, or is there something creepy and somewhat Lovecraftian about all those spindly "legs" moving an otherwise stationary organism?
Ain't it called pentamerous symmetry or something like that?
I knew it! They are here. They are among us. THE TRIFFIDS ARE HERE!