01 June 2010

Tuesday Crustie: Insect cousin

Speleonectes tanumekes is a remipede. The remipedes are an interesting group of crustaceans for many reasons. They were, for many years, known only from fossils, but, like the coelocanth, were discovered years later alive and well. (Such species are sometimes called “Lazarus taxa” because they “rose from the dead.”) That they were not known to have survived before this could perhaps be excused, because they now only live in underwater caves.

They have started to attract much more attention recently with a paper on arthropod relationships, which suggests that remipedes are the closest living relatives to insects. You can read more about this here and here.

Remipedes also boast one of my favourite genus names in the animal kingdom: Godzillius. It was the name given to a remipede of “monstrous” size: a little over 40 millimetres.

Unfortunately, many of these remipede species are only known from a very restricted number of caves, making them very vulnerable.

Picture from here.

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