Eli5: do echinoderms have sentience?

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Eli5: do echinoderms have sentience?

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2 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Well, just about every living creature has *sentience.* A dog has sense-feeling. A rat. A fly. A zombie, even, in pretty much every fiction, because they respond to noise, smell, or light. These are all sense-feelings.

Since starfish biologically respond to various conditional changes within the ocean water, they are absolutely sentient.

Did you mean ***sapience***?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Echinoderm sentience is actually an interesting question! Classically speaking, in terms of a legal/ethical definition, no. This largely stems from the fact that defining sentience is more complicated than just “do they react to stimuli?” If so, a deciduous tree could be sentient, as it loses its leaves in response to changing environmental factors. Rather, you have to prove that there is neurological integration of sensory signals that leads to a behaviour. The classic example people usually use is pain—which can be a bit tricky because its hard to prove there is an actual perception rather than simply a reflex arc. Additionally, the absence of pain doesn’t prove anything either. Generally, because echinoderms don’t have a centralized brain, proving any sort of sensory integration has historically been a tough sell.

I may be wrong but I an not sure there is a correct answer to this question, really. Invertebrate ethics are a bit of a rising topic, in general, and have largely been brought to the forefront because of cephalopods. In my opinion, they are. In the opinion of governing bodies, that will vary.