Woodlouse, SEM

Woodlouse, SEM

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Credit: STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Spiky woodlouse (Laureola atlantica), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). The head is at left, with the sensory structures called antennae. The woodlouse has a segmented carapace (or shell), like all crustaceans. It lives on land, but requires damp conditions for its gill-like lungs to work properly. Underneath the carapace is its soft body and its legs. A woodlouse feeds on dead wood and plants, performing a vital role in the decay cycle. Woodlice are found in damp, dark conditions worldwide, but L. atlantica is endemic (found nowhere else) to the small Atlantic island of St Helena. It is now considered endangered. Magnification: x14 when printed 10cm wide.

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