Rosette-scaled brittle star

Ophiolepis elegans

Family Ophiuridae - brittle stars

Disk round; 5 short narrow arms distinctly set off from disk; color on aboral side (top dorsal side) brownish, sometimes with lighter spot in center of disk; arms banded; oral side (underside where mouth is) lighter, beige; aboral (upper side) of disk covered with scales in a rosette pattern, 2 large scales on each side of arms, smaller scales in center of disk, 1 column of scales between each pair of arms, each larger scale is completely surrounded by a row of tiny scales; on oral side of disk, jaws (5 triangular areas making up mouth frame) surrounded on sides by small plates (called oral papillae), only one plate on tip of each jaw; 2 long slits (genital slits) between each arm; 4-6 arm spines on each side of arms; aboral arm plates (see photos) hexagonal shaped, triangular shaped accessory arm plates present on each side of arm plates, sometimes divided into 2-3 segments.
Similar Species
These brittle stars are easy to distinguish from other brittle stars by the plate formation (rosette pattern) on its disk.
Gulf and bay, shell, sand or muddy sand bottoms
Maximum Size
2.5 cm (1 in) disk width, 19 cm (7 1/2 in) arm span
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names