23 August 2011

Tuesday Crustie: Don’t mess with the front or the back


Stomatopods, like this one, Chorisquilla hystrix, often feature in this recurring feature because their are pretty photogenic. As do the photographs of Arthropoda blogger Mike Bok, because he takes damn good photos. (Really, he should be doing a Tuesday Crustie series, not me.)

But what is most astonishing about this particular one is an extravagant back end (known in the crustacean biz as the telson):


An astonishing array of protuberances! What might they be for? In his Flickr photostream, Mike notes this is the first one he’s seen in three years, and a Google Scholar search for the species yields a paltry seven hits, almost all taxonomic surveys. None seem to be promising leads for hints on why the back end of this beast is so extravagant.

Photos by Michael Bok on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.

2 comments:

trilobutt said...

Strange o.o Stomatopods bash each other on the telson as part of their fighting rituals, maybe these are just to annoy the opponent's raptorial appendage?

(See here, where the diagram of the fighting stomatopods is, for a description of the ritual: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/mantis-shrimp-crustacea-stomatopoda/ - yes, that is my blog, sorry for the shameless advertising! :P)

Michael Bok said...

There is a related species, Chorisquilla tweediei that has similar fine hooks on its telson. However, in C. tweediei the hooks pick up sediment and detritus, and can be used as a camouflaged door to a burrow.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebok/6152658103/lightbox/

Yet another stomatopod from the same family, Echinosquilla guerinii also has a spiked telson which it uses to mimic an unpalatable urchin.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/arthropoda/crustacea/malacostraca/eumalacostraca/royslist/images/e_guerinii1.jpg

So perhaps the telson of Chorisquilla hystrix has a similar purpose.