• Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Echinodermata
  • Subphylum: Asterozoa
  • Class: Ophiuroidea
  • Order: Euryalida
  • Family: Gorgonocephalidae
  • Scientific name: Gorgonocephalus caputmedusae
  • Norwegian: medusahode

Characteristics:

The basket star Gorgon's head has a central disk covered with distinct spines, and may reach a diameter of up to 9 cm. The five, heavily branched arms, have as many as 5000 arm tips and can reach a diameter of approximately 50 cm. The color is pale yellow or beige. When disturbed the arms curl up and appearance change from a bush to tight ball.

Habitat:

The Gorgon's head prefers rocky substrate on current exposed locations. It is often seen sitting in sea fans like P. placomus and P. resedaeformis, where the availability of food drifting by is excellent. It is most frequent below 50 metres, but can be found as shallow as 20 in the fjords.

Distribution:

It is registered in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, including Iceland, the Orkney Islands, the British Isles and Norway.

There are three other similar species along the coast of Norway. Two of them, G. arcticus and G. eucnemis, have a more northern distribution and exist only along the coast of Finnmark. These have smooth, spineless surface on the central disk. The third species, G. lamarcki have very fine spines giving the central disk a velvet-like appearance. It is usually found deeper than 75 metres.