Fell, Howard B. Formerly, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:April 2016
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A former order of brittle stars (class Ophiuroidea). The order Phrynophiurida is an invalid taxon of brittle stars. The members of this former order have been incorporated into the orders Euryalida and Ophiurida (class Ophiuroidea). In the phrynophiurid brittle stars, the vertebrae usually articulate by means of hourglass-shaped surfaces and the arms are able to coil upward or downward in the vertical plane. There is usually a leathery integument, in which calcareous granules or platelets are embedded. Most species are found in deep water, and often the arms are coiled tightly about the branches of black corals, upon which the phrynophiurids feed. Of the families now assigned to the order Euryalida, the Gorgonocephalidae often have branched arms, the Asteronychidae have a large disk and slender arms, and the Asteroschematidae have a small disk and stout arms. Otherwise, these aforementioned families share a number of characteristics. One other family, the Ophiomyxidae (including Ophiocanops), whose members differ in having a soft, unprotected integument, has now been assigned to the order Ophiurida. See also: Echinodermata; Euryalida; Oegophiurida; Ophiurida; Ophiuroidea
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