Sea stars evolved at a stunningly rapid pace, says a new study.
Researchers at UC Davis found that two separate species of the sea creature diverged about 6,000 to 22,000 years ago, yet differentiate from each other immensely.
"That's unbelievably fast compared to most organisms," said study co-author Rick Grosberg, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, reported Phys Org.
More from GlobalPost: Old problems plague New India
The researchers looked at two types of stars Cryptasperina pentagona and C. hystera, living on the Australian coast.
Both have dramatically different sex lives, said Science Daily, with one having male and female species that breed small stars in plankton, while the other species is a hermaphrodite that breed their young inside and give birth to mini stars.
Looking at their DNA sequences, scientists were able to determine when the two species diverged.
The period between their split and the evolution of their diferences is considered dramatic.
"It's as dramatic a difference in life history as in any group of organisms," said Grosberg.
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.