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Social conditioning tells us that fragility is a negative trait and loss should be mourned. Seven armed starfish (Luidia ciliaris) teach us otherwise, as one of their strengths lies in fragility. Th eir limbs are brittle and snap off, allowing them to regenerate new limbs to replace ones damaged by predators. Last time I saw a seven armed starfish it was temporarily a six armed starfish with a gap waiting for an arm to regrow. Even when they have all seven arms you can oft en detect the pattern of previous loss, as the newer ones are shorter. Despite the stories that missing limbs tell, 19th Century naturalists were desperate to get intact specimens of seven armed starfish, as their fragility and propensity to drop all their arms in response to being caught made intact specimens rare.


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Outdoor Swimmer
March 20

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