Malacostraca – Malacostracans
The largest of the six classes of crustaceans
Malacostracans encompass a wide array of body plans, from the elongated forms of shrimps to the broad carapaces of crabs and the robust bodies of lobsters. Like all crustaceans, they possess exoskeletons, external skeletons that provide protection and support. To grow, they undergo molting, shedding their exoskeletons and forming larger ones. It allows them to grow and regenerate lost body parts. After molting, the new exoskeleton is soft and vulnerable until it hardens.
Many malacostracans are of significant economic importance to humans. Shrimps, crabs, and lobsters are key components of fisheries and aquaculture, providing valuable sources of protein and income. They inhabit a variety of environments, ranging from freshwater rivers and lakes to the deepest ocean depths. Their adaptability allows them to thrive in ecosystems ranging from rocky shores to sandy bottoms.
Orders in this class
Small, hopping crustaceans resembling miniature shrimp
May look like cockroaches, but they are not insects; they are crustaceans
Ten-legged wonders of aquatic ecosystems
With trinocular vision and an ability to detect polarized light
Known for their vertical migration, moving up and down to feed on phytoplankton