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Remipedia is a class of blind crustaceans found in coastal aquifers which contain saline groundwater. Populations have been found in almost every ocean basin so far explored, including in Australia, the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean. The first described remipede was the fossil Tesnusocaris goldichi from the Lower Pennsylvanian period, but, since 1979, twenty-four living species have been identified from throughout the neo-tropics.[1,2]
Remipedes are 10–40 millimetres (0.4–1.6 in) long and comprise a head and an elongate trunk of up to forty-two similar body segments. The swimming appendages are attached on the side of each segment, and the animals swim on their backs. They are generally slow-moving. They have fangs connected to secretory glands; it is still unknown whether these glands secrete digestive juices or poisonous venom, or whether remipedes feed primarily on living organisms or on detritus (dead organisms).
They have a generally primitive body plan in crustacean terms, and have been thought to be a basal crustacean group- more distantly related to other crustacean groups than those groups are to each other. However, this is disputed: Fanenbruck et al. showed that at least one species, Godzilliognomus frondosus, has a highly organised and well-differentiated brain, with a particularly large olfactory area which is a common feature for species that live in dark environments. The size and complexity of the brain suggested to Fanenbruck et al. that Remipedia might be the sister taxon to Malacostraca, regarded as among the most derived (having evolved many phenotypic changes, compared with related taxa) of the crustaceans. They have also been grouped together with the Cephalocarida, and recently with the Hexapoda.