New shrimp-like species found off southwest coast of Ireland

Deep-sea crustaceans have ability to strip a pig carcass of meat in a matter of days

The paracallisoma alberti species of amphipod. Image: National Oceanography Centre  (noc.ac.uk)

The paracallisoma alberti species of amphipod. Image: National Oceanography Centre (noc.ac.uk)

 

Two new species of shrimp-like crustaceans have been discovered off the south-west coast of Ireland by British researchers.

The two species are amphipods, small scavenging crustaceans around 3mm in length. Their discovery was reported in the scientific journal Zootaxa, in a paper by researchers Dr Tammy Horton and Dr Michael Thurston of the National Oceanography Centre in Southhampton.

What the researchers say is most notable about the newly identifed species, given the names Paracallisoma idioxenos and Haptocallisoma lemarete, is their scavenging patterns.

Amphipods generally move in swarms to strip the carcasses of marine animals including whales and fish, and these new species have the ability to strip a pig carcass in a matter of days.

Dr Horton named the species in honour of the late taxonomist Roger Bamber, who died in February of this year.

“I gave the species name ‘lemarete’ to one of the amphipods because it translates from Greek to ‘Bold and Excellent’, which is the motto on Roger Bamber’s coat of arms.”

Dr Horton described amphipods as “incredibly diverse and adaptable”, with over 10,000 known species.

Professor Andrew Gooday at the National Oceanography Centre said that amphipods like those discovered are highly common and found in large numbers. “They occur from shallow waters to the deepest part of the ocean.”

These newly discovered species are only found in deep waters, over 2.5 km below sea level.

“There’s no danger of paddling in the sea and encountering flesh-eating crustaceans,” Prof Gooday added.