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Decapod anatomy

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Title: Decapod anatomy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Gross anatomy, Morphology (biology), Shrimp mix, Spiny lobster, Chinese white shrimp
Collection: Crustacean Anatomy, Decapods
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Decapod anatomy


The decapod crustacean, such as a crab, lobster, shrimp or prawn, is made up of nineteen body segments grouped into two main body parts, the cephalothorax and the pleon (abdomen). Each segment may possess one pair of appendages, although in various groups these may be reduced or missing. They are, from head to tail:


  • Cephalothorax 1
    • Head 1.1
    • Thorax / Pereon 1.2
  • Abdomen / Pleon 2



  1. antennules
  2. antennae
  3. mandibles
  4. first maxillae
  5. second maxillae

The head also bears the (usually stalked) compound eyes. The distal portion of a mandible or maxilla which has a sensory function is known as a palp.

Thorax / Pereon

  1. first maxillipeds
  2. second maxillipeds
  3. third maxillipeds
  4. first pereiopods
  5. second pereiopods
  6. third pereiopods
  7. fourth pereiopods
  8. fifth pereiopods

Maxillipeds are appendages modified to function as mouthparts. Particularly in the less advanced decapods, these can be very similar to the pereiopods. Pereiopods are primarily walking gills; the section of the carapace that projects in front of the eyes is called the rostrum.

Abdomen / Pleon

  1. first pleopods
  2. second pleopods
  3. third pleopods
  4. fourth pleopods
  5. fifth pleopods
  6. uropods

Pleopods (also called swimmerets) are primarily swimming legs, and are also used for brooding the eggs (except in prawns), catching food (then swept to the mouth), and can sometimes bear their own gills. In some taxa, the first one or two pairs of pleopods are specialised in the males for fertilisation, and are referred to as the gonopods. At the end of the pleon is the tail fan, comprising a pair of biramous uropods and the telson, which bears the anus. Together, they are used for steering while swimming, and in

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