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Temporal range: Jurassic - recent
Pentagonaster dubeni P1212778.JPG
Pentagonaster duebeni
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Asteroidea
Order: Valvatida
Family: Goniasteridae
Forbes, 1841

See text.

Goniasteridae are the largest family of sea stars, included in the ordo Valvatida.


Ray fragment of fossil goniasterid; Zichor Formation (Coniacian, Upper Cretaceous), southern Israel.

Goniasteridae are usually middle-sized sea stars with a characteristic double range of marginal plates bordering the disk and arms. Most of them have 5 arms, often short and triangular, around a broad central disc ; lots of species are pentagonal or subpentagonal (hence the name of the family). The aboral face is often covered with tiny spines looking like paxillae. Pedicellariae are often valvate, and the gonads are located at the interradius.[1]

Main identification keys for this group include the presence of paxillae, granules, teeth, spines, or the shape and dimensions of marginal plate.[2]

Location and habitat[edit]

They occur predominantly on deep-water continental shelf habitats (but a part of them inhabit shallow waters) in all the world’s oceans, being the most diverse in the Indo-Pacific region.[3]

List of genera[edit]

About 260 extant species within 70 genera are currently known, which make this family the most diverse of all the sea stars,[4] even if half of the genera are monospecific.

According to World Register of Marine Species, this family includes the following genera:[5]


  1. ^ "Family Goniasteridae". Marine Species Identification Portal. 
  2. ^ "Family Goniasteridae". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. 
  3. ^ Clark, A. M. An index of names of recent Asteroidea Part 2: Valvatida. Echinoderm Studies 4 (1993)
  4. ^ Christopher Mah (23 April 2013). "How many starfish species are there ? Where do they Live ? How long have they been around ? Five Points about Sea Star Diversity". The Echinoblog. 
  5. ^ Christopher Mah (2014), Goniasteridae Forbes, 1841, In: Mah, C.L. (2014) World Asteroidea database, accessed through World Register of Marine Species