- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Sand dollars avoid predators by cloning themselves
Many animals have cunning ways of hiding from predators. But the larva of the sand dollar takes that to an extreme – it avoids being spotted by splitting itself into two identical clones.
A pluteus can’t swim quickly, so there is no escape for one if it is attacked by a hungry fish. Instead, Dawn Vaughan and Richard Strathmann from the University of Washington discovered that the pluteus relies on not being spotted in the first place.
They exposed 4-day-old larvae to water which contained mucus from the skin of a potential predator – the Dover sole. Within 24 hours, every single larva that was exposed to the mucus has grown a small bud that eventually detached and developed into a second