Ophiopsila aranea Forbes, 1843

Ophiopsila aranea

Description: A large brittle star with long banded arms which lives in crevices. The arms are banded with light and dark brown and there is a reticulate mottled pattern of brown on the disc. The arm spines are flattened and arranged in groups of 6-8. The tentacle scales are shorter than those of Ophiopsila annulosa but still exceptionally large. Disc 10mm. arms 9x disc diameter.

Habitat: Lives in crevices and extends the long arms out into the water. At the Mewstone these crevices are in bedded shales.

Distribution: Apparently rare in the British Isles, recorded from the Mewstone near Plymouth where it is locally abundant. Also known from the west coast of Ireland.

Similar Species: Ophiopsila annulosa is similar but larger and more robust with more arm spines at each joint and a different habitat. Ophiothrix fragilis may adopt a similar habit of extending its arms from crevices and is much commoner.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map: NBN map : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

WoRMS: Species record : World Register of Marine Species.

iNaturalist: Species account : iNaturalist World Species Observations database

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2016). Ophiopsila aranea Forbes, 1843. [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2024-04-16

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