Magnificent urchin

Astropyga magnifica

ORDER Diadematida

FAMILY Diadematidae

TAXONOMY

Astropyga magnifica Clark, 1934.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The test diameter can reach 7.8 in (20 cm) with brilliant coloration of golden yellow and iridescent blue spots. Spines are long and banded with reddish brown and yellowish white. Areas of test are bare.

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical coastal waters of the western Atlantic to the northeast South America down to about 295 ft (90 m).

HABITAT

Sandy bottoms, shell sand, and limestone outcrops on coral reefs.

BEHAVIOR

A fast-moving urchin owing to its ability to walk on its spines. Patchy distribution, but some are known to aggregate. When threatened by predator, it clumps its spines in a defense position. Similar biology to the sea urchin, Diadema antillarum. Species associated with a number of different types of commensal animals such as small fish and shrimps.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Grazer, feeding on algae and occasionally small invertebrates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Sexual reproduction. Sexes are separate. Eggs and sperm are shed into the water column, where they are fertilized and develop into free-living larvae.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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