Deep-Sea Decapod Crustacean

The Deep-Sea Decapod Crustacean (Polycheles enthrix) is a blind, ten-limbed lobster-like crustacean. Polycheles means ‘many-clawed.’ It is often known as a ‘living fossil.’

The Deep-Sea Decapod Crustacean looks like a lobster or a shrimp, with a reddish-orange exo-skeleton. It has ten elongated chelate (clawed) limbs and a segmented tail. Because it lives in very deep oceans, where there is little or no light, its eyes are not functional, and therefore it is blind. 

Deep-Sea Decapod Crustacean

It grows to about 100 centimetres (39 inches) long. 

It is native to the world’s tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea and the Irish Sea. It prefers oceans that are very deep. It lives on the bottom of the ocean. Therefore, it is benthic. 

This decapod is from the collection of decapod and non-decapod crustaceans in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. The Crustacean collection has about 8,500 specimens, which is one of the world’s most diverse and biggest collections of deep-sea crustaceans from the Indo-Pacific region. They are mainly preserved in alcohol, while some are dry preserved (such as the crab collection). 

Tissue and DNA information have also been collected from the crustaceans since 2008.

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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