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Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea.
They are opportunistic feeders and are mostly predators on benthic invertebrates.
Several species have specialized feeding behaviours including eversion of their stomachs and suspension feeding.
Many species are brightly coloured in various shades of red or orange, while others are blue, grey or brown.
Starfish have tube feet operated by a hydraulic system and a mouth at the centre of the oral or lower surface.
The remarkably intact specimen was unearthed after 1,500 man-hours of digging.
Only parts of the skull, fin and tail bones are missing.
The tropical crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) is a voracious predator of coral throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and the northern Pacific sea star is considered to be one of the world's 100 worst invasive species.
The fossil record for starfish is ancient, dating back to the Ordovician around 450 million years ago, but it is rather poor, as starfish tend to disintegrate after death.
Examination of the marine reptile's teeth revealed it likely ate shelled marine animals such as ammonites.
It is hoped the fossil, first unveiled in the journal PLOS ONE, will help palaeontologists understand how the marine reptiles evolved and spread across the world.
They are found from the intertidal zone down to abyssal depths, 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the surface. They typically have a central disc and five arms, though some species have a larger number of arms.