Overview

Brief Summary

Fossil species

recent & fossil

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 99 specimens in 9 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 56 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 29 - 2138
  Temperature range (°C): 4.063 - 24.824
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.871 - 34.243
  Salinity (PPS): 34.478 - 36.495
  Oxygen (ml/l): 2.008 - 5.232
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.107 - 2.248
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.413 - 35.756

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 29 - 2138

Temperature range (°C): 4.063 - 24.824

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.871 - 34.243

Salinity (PPS): 34.478 - 36.495

Oxygen (ml/l): 2.008 - 5.232

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.107 - 2.248

Silicate (umol/l): 1.413 - 35.756
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:16Public Records:1
Specimens with Sequences:13Public Species:1
Specimens with Barcodes:13Public BINs:1
Species:1         
Species With Barcodes:1         
          
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Barcode data

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Bathynomus

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Wikipedia

Giant isopod

A giant isopod is any of the almost 20 species of large isopods (crustaceans related to the shrimp and crabs) in the genus Bathynomus. Bathynomus giganteus, the species upon which the generitype is based, is often considered the largest isopod in the world, though other comparably poorly known species of Bathynomus may reach a similar size (e.g., B. kensleyi).[1]

French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards was the first[2] to describe the genus in 1879[3] after fishing a juvenile male B. giganteus from the Gulf of Mexico; this was an exciting discovery for both scientists and the public, as at the time the idea of a lifeless or "azoic" deep ocean had only recently been refuted by the work of Sir Charles Wyville Thomson and others. Females were not recovered until 1891.

Giant isopods are of little interest to most commercial fisheries owing to the typical scarcity of catches and because ensnared isopods are usually scavenged beyond marketability before they are recovered. The species are noted for resemblance to the common woodlouse or pill bug, to which they are related. The few specimens caught in the Americas and Japan with baited traps are sometimes seen in public aquaria.

Physical description[edit]

B. giganteus reaches an average length between 19 and 36 centimetres (7.5 and 14.2 in),[2] with a maximum weight and length of approximately 1.7 kilograms (3.7 lb) and 76 centimetres (30 in) respectively.[4] Giant isopods are a good example of deep-sea gigantism (cf. giant squid). Though most other species of Bathynomus apparently are smaller,[1] they are nevertheless far larger than the "typical" isopods that range in size from 1 to 5 centimetres (0.39 to 1.97 in). Their morphology resembles that of their terrestrial cousin, the woodlouse: their bodies are dorso-ventrally compressed, protected by a rigid, calcareous exoskeleton composed of overlapping segments. Like the woodlouse, they also possess the ability to curl up into a "ball", where only the tough shell is exposed. This provides protection from predators trying to strike at the more vulnerable underside. The first shell segment is fused to the head; the most posterior segments are often fused as well, forming a "caudal shield" over the shortened abdomen (pleon).[2] The large eyes are compound with nearly 4,000 facets, sessile and spaced far apart on the head.[5] There are two pairs of antennae.

A frontal view of Bathynomus giganteus, showing its large, highly reflective compound eyes

The uniramous thoracic legs or pereiopods are arranged in seven pairs, the first of which are modified into maxillipeds to manipulate and bring food to the four sets of jaws. The abdomen has five segments called pleonites each with a pair of biramous pleopods; these are modified into natatory legs and rami, flat respiratory structures acting as gills. The isopods are a pale lilac in colour.

Ecology[edit]

Giant isopods are important scavengers in the deep-sea benthic environment; they are mainly found from the gloomy sublittoral zone at a depth of 170 metres (560 ft) to the pitch darkness of the bathypelagic zone at 2,140 metres (7,020 ft), where pressures are high and temperatures are very low – down to about 4 °C (39 °F).[6] A few species from this genus have been reported from shallower depths, notably B. miyarei between 22 and 280 metres (72 and 919 ft).[7] Over 80 percent of B. giganteus are found at a depth between 365 and 730 metres (1,198 and 2,395 ft).[8] They are thought to prefer a muddy or clay substrate and lead solitary lives.

Although generalist scavengers, these isopods are mostly carnivorous and feed on dead whales, fish, and squid; they may also be active predators of slow-moving prey such as sea cucumbers, sponges, radiolarians, nematodes, and other zoobenthos, and perhaps even live fish. They are known to attack trawl catches. As food is scarce in the deep ocean biome, giant isopods must make do with what fortune brings; they are adapted to long periods of famine and have been known to survive over five years without food in captivity.[9][10] When a significant source of food is encountered, giant isopods gorge themselves to the point of compromising their locomotive ability. One study examining the contents of 1651 giganteus' intestines found that fish were most common there, followed by cephalopods and decapods, particularly carideans and galatheids.[2]

In 1990, the Scavengers of East Australian Seas expedition (SEAS) started to document the scavenging crustaceans along the east coast of Australia by setting traps. The deeper the water, the fewer number of species they found and the larger the species tended to be. The giant isopods found in very deep waters off Australia were compared to those found off Mexico and India. From the fossil record it is thought that Bathynomus existed more than 160 million years ago, before the break-up of the supercontinent Pangaea, so it did not evolve independently in all three locations, but since then it would be expected that Bathynomus would show divergent evolution in the various locations. However, the SEAS study found that the giant isopods in all three locations were almost identical. Andrew Parker in his book In the Blink of an Eye (from where this description of the SEAS expedition is taken) links this lack of evolution to the extremely low light levels of their habitat.[11]

Reproduction[edit]

A study of the seasonal abundance of B. giganteus juveniles and adults suggests a peak in reproductive capacity in the spring and winter months. This is observed to be due to a shortage of food during the summer. Mature females develop a brood pouch or marsupium when sexually active, the pouch being formed by overlapping oostegites or brood plates grown from the medial border of the pereopods. The young isopods emerge from the marsupium as miniatures of the adults, known as mancae. This is not a larval stage: the mancae are fully developed, lacking only the last pair of pereopods.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lowry, J. K. and K. Dempsey (2006). The giant deep-sea scavenger genus Bathynomus (Crustacea, Isopoda, Cirolanidae) in the Indo-West Pacific. In: Richer de Forges, B. and Justone, J.-L. (eds.), Résultats des Compagnes Musortom, vol. 24. Mémoires du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturalle, Tome 193: 163–192.
  2. ^ a b c d Patricia Briones-Fourzán and Enrique Lozano-Alvarez (1991). "Aspects of the biology of the giant isopod Bathynomus giganteus A. Milne Edwards, 1879 (Flabellifera: Cirolanidae), off the Yucatan Peninsula". Journal of Crustacean Biology 11 (3): 375–385. doi:10.2307/1548464. JSTOR 1548464. 
  3. ^ A. Milne Edwards (1879). "Sur un isopode gigantesque des grandes profondeurs de la mer" [On a giant isopod from the deep ocean]. Les Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences (in French) 88: 21–23. 
  4. ^ Daily Mail Reporter (April 3, 2010). "Monster of the deep: Shocked oil workers catch TWO-AND-A-HALF-FOOT 'woodlouse'". The Daily Mail (London). 
  5. ^ Steven C. Chamberlain, V. Benno Meyer-Rochow & William P. Dossert (1986). "Morphology of the compound eye of the giant deep-sea isopod Bathynomus giganteus". Journal of Morphology 189 (2): 145–156. doi:10.1002/jmor.1051890205. PMID 3746916. 
  6. ^ B. T. Cocke (1987). Morphological variation in the giant isopod Bathynomus giganteus (suborder Flabellifera: family Cirolanidae) with notes on the genus. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. p. 129 pp. 
  7. ^ SeaLifeBase (version 23 March 2010) Bathynomus miyarei. Accessed 26 February 2012
  8. ^ L. B. Holthuis & W. R. Mikulka (1972). "Notes on the deep-sea isopods of the genus Bathynomus A. Milne-Edwards, 1879". Bulletin of Marine Science 22: 575–591. 
  9. ^ Gallagher, Jack (2013-02-26). "Aquarium's deep-sea isopod hasn't eaten for over four years". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  10. ^ "I Won't Eat, You Can't Make Me! (And They Couldn't)". NPR. February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ A. Parker (2003). In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Kick-started the Big Bang of Evolution. The Free Press. pp. 121–132. ISBN 0-7432-5733-2. 
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