It’s nearing that time of the year when you need to climb up in to the loft and rummage around for that dusty old box of festive decorations. Pull out the sparkling baubles, the twinkling lights, the shiny tinsel and the festive wreath ready to turn your home into a winter wonderland. Last but not least, bring out that shining star to take its place at the top of the tree.
This year, ARKive has found its own shining stars to have pride of place on the blog, so enjoy these dazzling species with a merry glass of eggnog!
The star ascidian wins the brightest star competition with its striking orange hue. This unusual creature is a colonial sea-squirt which is embedded in a jelly-like coating with other individuals of the species. When disturbed, the star ascidian will expel a jet of water to try to protect it from predators! O star of wonder, star of night, star of royal beauty bright…!
Burmese starred tortoise
Of all tortoises characterised by the highly distinctive ‘star’ on their carapace, the Burmese starred tortoise is perhaps the rarest and most beautiful. The striking black, domed shell is marked with up to six radiating stripes emerging from small, yellow, central areas, creating the ‘star’ pattern that gives the tortoise its unique appearance. This little fellow definitely wins for wearing the most stars and embracing the festive spirit!
Darwin star orchid
The Darwin star orchid is not only spectacular in appearance but also the subject of probably the most famous story on pollination in orchids. Large and robust, it produces one to three star-shaped flowers on each inflorescence, which turn from green to creamy white within a few days of opening in the winter, just in time for the holiday season!
An unusual creature, the star-nosed mole already has his star ready for the holidays but it is definitely not the shining star you might be used to. This species has a strange set of tentacles surrounding its nose that are sensitive to touch and electrical impulses enabling it to find its prey. So this funky star is for life, not just for Christmas!
This delicate little star almost looks like its been lit up in time for the cold Christmas nights. The common brittlestar often forms dense groups offshore, with as many as 2,000 individuals recorded per square metre. Now wouldn’t that be a starry sight!
This striking little bird has its own twinkling stars covering part of its head and breast in the form of small, white spots. With its festive red colouring, the star finch found only in Australia, is already dressed and decorated in time for the Christmas season!
ARKive’s shining festive stars would not be complete without the common starfish. This beautiful star-shaped creature is propelled along the seabed by rows of tiny ‘tube-feet’ which also help it to stick to rocks to protect it from predators. Sometimes the starfish loses a limb to a predator, but this clever little star can grow it back and may even grow back two limbs to replace a single loss accidently – how funny is that!
We hope you enjoyed ARKive’s twinkling, festive stars. See if you can find some more sparkling species as good as ours!
Rebecca Sennett, ARKive Media Researcher