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Echinoderms Have Bilateral Tendencies

By Chengcheng Ji, Liang Wu, Wenchan Zhao, Sishuo Wang and Jianhao Lv


Echinoderms take many forms of symmetry. Pentameral symmetry is the major form and the other forms are derived from it. However, the ancestors of echinoderms, which originated from Cambrian period, were believed to be bilaterians. Echinoderm larvae are bilateral during their early development. During embryonic development of starfish and sea urchins, the position and the developmental sequence of each arm are fixed, implying an auxological anterior/posterior axis. Starfish also possess the Hox gene cluster, which controls symmetrical development. Overall, echinoderms are thought to have a bilateral developmental mechanism and process. In this article, we focused on adult starfish behaviors to corroborate its bilateral tendency. We weighed their central disk and each arm to measure the position of the center of gravity. We then studied their turning-over behavior, crawling behavior and fleeing behavior statistically to obtain the center of frequency of each behavior. By joining the center of gravity and each center of frequency, we obtained three behavioral symmetric planes. These behavioral bilateral tendencies might be related to the A/P axis during the embryonic development of the starfish. It is very likely that the adult starfish is, to some extent, bilaterian because it displays some bilateral propensity and has a definite behavioral symmetric plane. The remainder of bilateral symmetry may have benefited echinoderms during their evolution from the Cambrian period to the present

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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