Have you ever walked along a beach and spotted a perfectly round sand dollar? Finding these little creatures is a fun past-time for many beach-goers, especially since it’s so easy to find so many perfect ones! Did you realize, though, there may be a reason why there are perfect sand dollars?
In fact, they very well may have been clones. When these flat sea urchins find themselves in danger, they actually clone themselves. For example, if a juvenile sand dollar was in fear of being spotted by a school of fish, it could create a smaller, perfect replica to avoid being detected. All their larvae have to do is be exposed to fish mucous and they will begin to make perfect copies of themselves. It’s really quite impressive–unless you’re a fish that’s looking for food, of course.
Sand dollars are flat, burrowing sea urchins.
Crustacean larvae, small copepods, diatoms, algae and detritus are their main food options.
Sand dollars tend to be found in groups.
You may think of them as the white coin-like creatures that wash up on the seashore, but they actually look quite different while they’re alive.
(via The Ark In Space)
Crazy, isn’t it? Believe it or not, sand dollars aren’t the only creatures who can clone themselves–adult starfish and sea cucumbers also have this ability–but they are the only ones that do so as a juvenile defense mechanism.