Wednesday, January 14, 2015

AMPHIPODS! Tiny Crustaceans that show AMAZING colors!

Image by Arthur Anker
AMPHIPODS! What are they? Small, very diverse crustaceans that occur all over the world in marine, freshwater and even terrestrial habitats. They are distinctive in that their bodies are laterally compressed, in other words, their bodies are "taller" than they are wide.

There's a bewildering diversity of them with over 9500 species known.
Most of them are pretty tiny (about 1.0 to 20 millimeters) but some giants approach 34 centimeters (13 inches!).. such as these supergiant amphipods which live in the abyss of the deep-sea at 7,012 meters!

There's a MASSIVE amount of diversity within the group. Some are transparent, while others are colorful. Sometimes they occur in huge densities and are often thought of as the "bugs" of the sea. They often act as detritivores/scavengers as well as predators..

I thought today might be a good idea to share some of the more unusual body forms, courtesy of the highly talented photo naturalists on Flickr. Enjoy!

Epimeria loricata by Olga Zimina

Apparently 2 different color morphs of Paramphithoe hystrix by Olga Zimina
A "Jewel beetle" amphipod by Arthur Anker

A stunning podocerid? from Arthur Anker
A stunning hyperiid...

Some interesting "reef aquarium" species by Waldo Nell
the same under green filters/light!

Some Antarctic amphipod goodness (Echiniphimedia hodgsoni ,family Iphimediidae-ID by Marie Verhaye!) from US Antarctic Research Program at the NMNH

and a delightful species from the White sea.. by Alexander Semenov

There's this stunning beauty, ..also by A. Semenov


Kevin said...

Glad you mentioned that most are tiny! While beautiful and fascinating, a few look like something out of a horror film too.

Unknown said...

Hi... I am doing research in Jamaica and would like to know if you could help me Identify the Amphipods here. There is quite a bit of diversity and have no access to any key to help me identify the to Family level

ChrisM said...

sorry. I'm not really a specialist on amphipods.