Fairy Shrimp

Fairy Shrimp

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Credit: SINCLAIR STAMMERS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Fairy Shrimp Chirocephalus diaphanus male. Fairy shrimps swim around on their backs, propelled by the constantly moving legs. Fossils of Fairy Shrimps have been found in Cambrian rocks in Sweden. Fairy Shrimps lack a carapace, and are considered to be rather primitive as they have a relatively large number of segments and the legs are not specialised. The body is elongated, and bears 11 pairs of legs fringed with bristles; the head curves downwards, and in males the second pair of antennae are modified 'claspers' for grabbing females during mating. They grow up to 25mm in length. They are the only Fairy Shrimp to be found in UK, this species inhabits temporary pools, ranging from ponds to muddy ruts, and shows a preference for sites that are subject to regular disturbance by vehicles, livestock, or ploughing.

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Keywords: cambrian period, claspers, crustacean, fairy shrimps, fossils, living fossil, temporary pools, vernal pools

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