Sea lilies are stalked relatives of feather stars and usually remain fixed in the same place after developing from a settled planktonic larva. However, while Neocrinus decorus and other, similar sea lilies cannot swim, like shallow-water feather stars, they have been filmed dragging themselves over the sea bed by their arms. To do this, they appear to break off the end of the stalk, then reattach to the substrate using flexible, fingerlike appendages on the stalk. In this way sea lilies can escape from predatory sea urchins. The stalk consists of a stack of disk-shaped skeleton pieces called ossicles, and looks like a simple vertebrate spinal column. Sea lilies feed by spreading out their numerous, feathery arms against the current and trapping plankton. Food particles are passed down the arms and into the mouth. Sea lilies are found at depts of 500–4,000 ft (150–1,200 m).

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This post is posted on Thursday 18 April 2013.
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Tagged as: ocean sea nature science deepsea underwater deep sea sea lilies animals
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