Reischman, Placidus G. Department of Biology, St. Martin's College, Olympia, Washington.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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A taxon of crustacean parasites related to the barnacles. Worldwide in distribution, members of the Rhizocephala prey on other crustaceans, principally Decapoda, such as crabs, shrimp, and their allies. In 1949, the rhizocephalan Loxothylacus texanus (see illustration) infested 16% of the blue crab population in Arkansas Bay, Texas. Rhizocephalans produce modifications that affect the abdomen of the crab, making males resemble females and causing immature females to precociously acquire the adult form. These parasites have become so modified by their mode of life that, as adults, they are no longer recognizable as barnacles, or even as crustaceans. See also: Cirripedia; Crustacea; Decapoda; Parasitology
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