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The Study of Crayfishes

(Pictured: Berried Female Cherax quadricarinatus - Giant Australian Red Claw Crawfish)

Crustaceans are invertebrate animals in the phylum Arthropoda, subphylum Crustacea, and include the barnacle, crab, crayfish, lobster, shrimp, water flea, and pill bug. Although largely aquatic, a few crustaceans are found in terrestrial habitats. Of the nearly 40,000 aquatic species of crustaceans, only about 10% occur in freshwater habitats. Crustaceans have evolved a variety of specialized body forms and behaviors to cope with both aquatic and terrestrial environments, however, all crustaceans share several characteristics: a hard exoskeleton; jointed, paired appendages; and three body regions (head, thorax, and abdomen). The head and thorax regions are sometimes combined into a cephalothorax.

Crayfish, often referred to as crawfish or crawdad and less often called mudbug, freshwater lobster, or tiny creek lobster are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are closely related. They are found in bodies of fresh water that do not freeze to the bottom, and which have shelter against predators. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species such as the invasive Procambarus clarkii are more hardy.

The name "crayfish" does not derive from the word "fish", but rather from the Old French word escrevisse (Modern French écrevisse) meaning "crevice" and referring to the habitat of the animal. The word has been modified to "crayfish" by association with "fish". The largely American variant "crawfish" is similarly derived. In New Zealand the name crayfish (or cray), refers to a spiny lobster, and crayfish are called freshwater crays or koura, the Maori name for the animal. Some kinds of crayfish are known locally as lobsters, crawdads, mudbugs, carmels, yabbies, or spoondogs.

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  • 33
  • Crustaceans
  • Aug 18, 2006
  • English

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