Feather Stars (Crinoids) | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Feather Stars

Feather Stars (Crinoids) Overview


They also known as crinoids, exhibit a striking appearance in marine environments. They consist of a central, cup-like body known as the calyx, from which feather-like arms radiate gracefully. These arms are adorned with fine, intricate pinnules that create a delicate, feathery appearance.

Feather stars come in various colors, often vivid and vibrant, adding to their visual allure. Their ethereal appearance, combined with their ability to anchor themselves to the substrate or swim gracefully, makes them captivating inhabitants of the ocean floor.

Origins And Evolution

Feather stars, or crinoids, have a long evolutionary history dating back to the Ordovician period, approximately 500 million years ago. Their ancient ancestors had simpler, stalked forms, and they gradually evolved into the free-living, feather-like creatures seen today.

Over eons, they adapted to a wide range of marine environments, including shallow tropical reefs and deep-sea abyssal plains. Their evolution involved significant modifications, such as the development of flexible, feathery arms for filter feeding.

Despite surviving multiple mass extinction events, crinoids have persisted, showcasing remarkable adaptability and resilience throughout Earth's geological past. This evolutionary journey has shaped them into some of the most unique and captivating organisms in the ocean.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Feathers, or crinoids, exhibit fascinating behavior and a distinctive marine lifestyle. They are primarily sessile, attaching themselves to substrates like rocks or coral. During the day, they often retract their feathery arms to protect against predators, resembling a closed blossom.

At night, they unfurl their arms to filter-feed on plankton and organic particles, utilizing tiny tube feet to capture prey. Some species can also swim using coordinated arm movements. Crinoids are known for their ability to thrive in various depths and temperatures, showcasing a flexible lifestyle within diverse underwater ecosystems.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Echinodermata (Echinoderms)
  • Class: Crinoidea (Crinoids)


  • Oceans
  • Seas
  • Coral reefs
  • Deep-sea habitats
  • Shallow coastal waters
  • Underwater caves
  • Kelp forests
  • Continental shelves
  • Abyssal plains
  • Submarine canyons

Fast Facts

  • Name: Feather Stars (Crinoids)
  • Scientific Name: Class Crinoidea
  • Habitat: Marine environments worldwide
  • Diet: Plankton and detritus
  • Physical Features: Feather-like arms
  • Nocturnal: Active at night
  • Solitary: Often solitary organisms
  • Unique Order: Crinoidea class
  • Lifespan: Several years to decades
  • Conservation Status: Variable, some threatened
  • Fun Facts: Ancient marine relatives, filter-feeding prowess, regenerative abilities

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Various, vibrant hues
  • Skin Type: Flexible exoskeleton covering
  • Top Speed: Slow, sedentary creatures
  • Lifespan: Several years to decades
  • Weight: Lightweight marine organisms
  • Length: Typically 10-30 centimeters
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: Varies by species
  • Age of Weaning: Not applicable; direct development

Feather Stars (Crinoids) FAQs

Where do feather stars live?

They inhabit oceans and seas worldwide, from shallow coral reefs to deep-sea trenches.

What do feather stars eat?

They are filter feeders, primarily consuming plankton and tiny organic particles from the water.

How do feather stars move?

Feather stars use coordinated arm movements to swim or anchor themselves to substrates.

Are feather stars nocturnal?

Many species are nocturnal, extending their feathery arms to feed at night.

Do feather stars live alone?

Feather can be solitary or form small groups, depending on the species.

Are there unique orders of crinoids?

Crinoids are classified into various orders based on their unique characteristics.

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