Mayerella banksia (Laubitz, 1970)

Common name: Skeleton Shrimp

Synonyms: None
Phylum Arthropoda
 Subphylum Crustacea
  Class Malacostraca
    Subclass Peracarida
     Order Amphipoda
      Suborder Caprellidea
       Family Aeginellidae
Mayerella banksia collected at Rosario Bay among drift algae. 
Photo by: Christina Smith, June2002 
Description: Caprellidea have no abdomen to speak of.  The thoracic segments are long and slender, and as a result the legs are widely spaced.  In some, certain legs are missing altogether, although the gills that typically grow from the bases of the legs survive as little fleshy pads or clubs.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Amphipods within the suborder Caprellidea are all relatively similar, although they are easier to differentiate between than the rest of the amphipods.  A dissecting microscope is necessary in order to tell the differences between Caprellidea.

Geographical Range: Temperate areas

Depth Range: Intertidal

Habitat: These amphipods are intertidal and commonly found among small algal clumps.

Biology/Natural History: These are among the most bizarre and interesting amphipods.  These elongate animals bear clinging feet at both the forward and the rear ends.  Most of the body consists of elongate thoracic segments; the abdomen is much reduced.  These animals have gills on the fourth and fifth pairs of thoracic segments only.  They remind one of a praying mantis, partly because of their general form and partly because of the appearance of their prehensile first and second legs.  It is interesting to watch their looping movements: they attach themselves by their more anterior legs as they let go with the legs that are in the rear portion of the body; then, after bringing the hind end forward, they attach themselves by the rear legs again.  They may remain motionless much of the time.  Some of the caprellids associated with hydroids nip off the polyps and eat them; others feed mostly on diatoms and detritus.

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Dichotomous Keys:
Kozloff (1987)

General References:
Morris et al (1980)

Scientific Articles:

General Notes and Observations:  Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors, etc.:

Authors and Editors of Page: Christina R. Smith
Christina Smith (2002):  Created original page
Edited by Hans Helmstetler