You know you blog about diverse topics when searches for "creamed spinach" and "mashed turnips" bracket things like "torture prisoners" and "why are echinoderms important". No good invertebrate-focused biologist could ever leave that last question unanswered, so here goes:
- They have a very cool water vascular system.
- They have mutable connective tissue, meaning they can dynamically vary the rigidity of their skeleton.
- They're deuterostomes, meaning that their embryonic development is very similar to chordate (e.g., human, bird) development, and thus they're useful for developmental-biology research.
- Many are keystone species in intertidal and marine communities.
- They're terribly cute, what with their tube feet and all.