A new species of crown-of-thorns sea star, Acanthaster benziei sp. nov. (Valvatida: Acanthasteridae), from the Red Sea

Gert Worheide, Emilie Kaltenbacher, Zara Louise Cowan, Gerhard Haszprunar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A new species of crown-of-thorns sea star (CoTS), Acanthaster benziei sp. nov., is described based on four specimens collected from Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast where it inhabits coral reefs. Species delimitation from congeners in the species complex, i.e., Acanthaster planci, Acanthaster mauritiensis and Acanthaster cf. solaris, is primarily based on distinct and diagnostic mitochondrial DNA sequence regions. Species separation of Acanthaster benziei is additionally justified due to diagnostic morphological characters: fewer arms; narrower and thinner spines; fanned spine tips in primary and latero-oral spines; a wider tip or tapering shape in circumoral spines; and rhombus-shaped oral pedicellariae.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-393
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 17 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-23
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the Senckenberg Research Institute and the King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, for enabling and supporting part of the collections during the Red Sea Biodiversity Surveys. For logistical assistance with the Thuwal region sampling, we thank the crew of the M/Y Dream Island (Dream Divers, Jeddah), and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab, especially Mike Berumen. We particularly thank Jessica Bouwmeester, Sara Campana (both KAUST), Oliver Voigt (LMU), Elayne Looker, Charlotte Myant-Best, Oliver James Spencer Taylor, and Ceri Evans (Five Oceans Environmental Services, Oman), and Sven Uthicke (AIMS) for sample collection, as well as John Burt and Dain McParland (NYU Abu Dhabi) for assistance in sample logistics. Gabrielle Büttner is acknowledged for assistance with DNA sequence analysis. This work is based on the Master's thesis of Emilie Kaltenbacher, carried out in the international Master's Program “Geobiology & Paleobiology” at LMU Munich. We would like to thank Christopher Mah, Andreas Kroh, and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive reviews.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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