Starfish embryos form weird ‘living crystal’ we have never

Whilst studying how starfish embryos swim, researchers observed a previously unseen phenomenon where the embryos clumped together into a honeycomb pattern near the surface of the water


13 July 2022

Starfish living crystal

Starfish embryos clump together into a living crystal

Fakhri et al.

Starfish embryos can organise themselves into large, oscillating crystals at the surface of water. These structures, which had never been seen before, may form because of the embryos’ swimming style and body shape.

Nikta Fakhri at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues placed hundreds of starfish embryos, each around 0.1 millimetres in size, in small salt-water tanks. The embryos then arranged themselves into honeycomb-like patterns at the water’s surface. This “living crystal” was a pulsating hexagonal grid with the round-shaped …

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