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How Do Sea Cucumbers Squeeze into Small Spaces?

Unlike the cucumbers we may add to our salads, sea cucumbers are able to change their shape at will. They can do this because their bodies are made up of collagen fibers which the animal can loosen when needed to essentially transform its body into a liquefied form. Once liquefied, it can squeeze through very small cracks among rocks or coral reefs, for example, and once in, it can tighten to regain its normal shape. Some species can so strongly solidify their form that they develop hard plates or spines for protection.

More about sea cucumbers:

  • Sea cucumbers are echinoderms just like starfish and sea urchins, which can also control their bodies in remarkable ways. Starfish, for example, can, in seconds, change from a rigid state necessary to open a shelled animal to food, to a flexible form necessary to move around the ocean floor. Sea urchins, alternatively can stiffen their spikes as a defense mechanism.

  • As a defense mechanism, sea cucumbers can expel, or vomit, some of their internal organs out of their bodies. These organs replenish over time.

  • Sea cucumbers are considered a delicacy in many Asian cuisines.

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