This image is a broad example of a phylogenetic tree, when traced down into more specific branches of the tree you can eventually find Acanthaster planci. The phylogenetic tree shown above displays the three major domains (bacteria, archaea, and eukaryota) which are grouped into different sections of the tree. The domains are then branched off into different organisms by features such as cell types. Below you will be guided into each stage of the Acanthaster planci phylogenetic tree.

Domain: Eukarya
    •Organisms with membrane-bound organelles and a nucleus
   •Contains a variety of organisms such as animals, fungi, plants, and protists.
Kingdom: Animalia
    •Multicellular and heterotrophic organisms
    •Motile at some stage of development
    •The kingdom Animalia contains a wide variety of organisms including insects, mammals, birds, marine animals, worms, snails, and much more!

This image goes into the animal kingdom and branches off into 10 different animal phyla. Each phylum  is characterized by their specific biological, morphological, and ecological aspects. Acanthaster planci is located within the Echinodermata phylum which then branches into more specific identification groups per level.

Phylum: Echinodermata
    •Marine organisms found in oceans
    •Organisms associated with spiny (echino) skin (dermata)
    •Deuterostome development: larvae and adult life-cycle stages
    •Water vascular system used for movement featuring tube feet
    •Calcium carbonate endoskeletons of spiny plates (ossicles)

Image of a starfish (left) and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, a sea urchin (right).
Both images taken from Wikipedia. Origin of the image (left) by TheMarque via Flickr. Click here to view origin. Image (right) authored by Kirt L. Onthank.

Class: Asteroidea (Sea stars or "starfish")
    •Commonly found in intertidal zones with high energy
    •Found around areas with high densities of bivalves
    •Possesses the ability to regenerate
    •Multi-directional movement
    •Possesses pedicellaria
    •Predators of invertebrates and has a voracious appetite
    •They have a unique stomach eversion feeding method

Image of an Oreasteridae starfish.
Image taken from Wikipedia. Authored by paulshaffner. Click here for the origin via Flicker.

Order: Valvatida
    •Acanthaster planci is more closely associated with ancestors from the Valvatida order, such as the Oreasteridae family, of which have formed morphological features to aid in irregular or rough terrain navigation (Birkeland and Lucas 13-14).
    •Pedicellaria are clamp-like in nature.
    •Specialized ossicles for increased flexibility for movement.
    •Two rows of tube feet
Family: Acanthasteridae
    •Contains species from the genus Acanthaster

Multiple Acanthaster planci starfish.
Image taken from Wikipedia, author Rore bzh.

Genus: Acanthaster
   •Acanth "thorn", aster "star"
    •The genus helps give rise to the common name, Crown-of-Thorns starfish

Acanthaster brevispinus

Species: Acanthaster planci
Acanth means "thorn", aster "star" and planci (root word of plankton) a reference to slow moving
    •Named by Carl Linnaeus, 1758
    •The literal meaning and crown shape created by the thorns on the central disc gives rise to its common name Crown-of-Thorns
    •Can grow up to 23 arms
    •Special elongated venomous spines
    •Multiple colors
    •Preys upon coral polyps

Image courtesy of lorytravelforever༽♥ॐ, thank you! Click on the image to view more photos by her!

Now come explore the Habitat!