Chace, Fenner A., Jr. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Knowlton, Robert E. Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Last reviewed:October 2020
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One of the more highly specialized crustacean orders. Members of the order Decapoda, termed decapods, are prominent crustaceans (superorder Eucarida; class Malacostraca; subphylum Crustacea; phylum Arthropoda), including shrimps, crayfish, lobsters, hermit crabs, and true crabs (Fig. 1). The order is so diverse that satisfactory definition is often difficult, but some characteristics are common to nearly all decapods. The most obvious feature is a head shield, or carapace, which covers and coalesces with all of the thoracic somites and which overhangs the gills on each side. Moreover, the first three of the eight pairs of thoracic appendages are specialized as maxillipeds and are closely associated with the true mouthparts. The last five pairs are walking legs or chelae (claws); this feature is the basis of the name Decapoda (ten feet). In addition, the gills are usually well developed and arranged in several series. See also: Arthropoda; Crustacea; Eucarida; Malacostraca
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