Sand dollars (order Clypeasteroida) are flat, round marine animals related to sea urchins, sea stars, and other echinoderms.
The sand dollars that you see washed up on shore are hard, white, and have a star design imprinted on the top. This is in fact the exoskeleton of a dead sand dollar, which is often collected by humans but looks very different than a live sand dollar. Found on the ocean floor when alive, sand dollars are covered in small, dark purple spines, making them look fuzzy. These spines are used to transport food the sand dollar catches to it’s mouth on the bottom. They also use these spines to help move themselves along the seafloor.
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