New family of starfish named after Southampton marine biologist

Starfish

A newly discovered family of starfish has been named after University of Southampton Professor Paul Tyler, MBE.

Recent expeditions involving University scientists to undersea volcanic vents on the ocean floor near Antarctica led to the discovery of the new starfish family, named the ‘Paulasteriidae’, to honour the work of deep-sea biologist Paul Tyler, who recently retired from the University. Paul led the Antarctic research programme that discovered these deep-sea vents and played a key role in creating the UK’s Isis deep-diving remotely-operated vehicle

facility. Paul spent more time than any other British biologist directly observing marine life in the deep ocean and inspired many students through his research-led teaching. The new family – a larger branch in the ‘treeof life’ than a species – includes the first starfish species known to thrive at deep-sea volcanic vents.

The difference between the new starfish family and the starfish we are most familiar with from rock pools is their number of arms. Common starfish have five arms but the starfish at the Antarctic vents usually have seven arms – and they can grow to around 20 cm across.

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