The Amazing Aristotle’s Lantern
Wow! Have you ever seen a sea urchin from this perspective?! Sea urchins possess an intricate mouth apparatus that’s located on the underside of their bodies — it’s referred to as an Aristotle’s Lantern! This muscular system is comprised of a powerful set of jaws and five sharp teeth-like structures that can move in various directions. This maneuverability allows sea urchins to graze on all sorts of algae growing within the nooks and crannies of a rocky reef environment.
So how did such an intricate system end up with the name Aristotle’s Lantern?
Aristotle — a prominent philosopher and naturalist from the 4th century — noticed a unique resemblance between horn lanterns and sea urchins. This lantern was a popular source of light at the time and consisted of five window panes. The five-part structure of a Horn lantern reminded him of the mouth of a sea urchin!
Be sure to observe our sea urchins on your next visit to the aquarium. You can find a few different species in Hall of Fishes and Seadragons & Seahorses. There are also opportunities to touch sea urchins out on Preuss Tide Pool Plaza!