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Amphionids: Amphionidacea

Behavior And Reproduction

There is very little information on behavior and reproduction. Younger animals live with other plankton in the upper layers of the ocean, while adults live and breed in deeper waters. The light-producing eyestalks may be used to attract or locate mates.

The larvae (LAR-vee) molt, or shed their exoskeletons, up to 13 times before reaching the postlarval stage. Postlarvae resemble the adult in shape and behavior, but are not able to reproduce. The number of larval stages varies from region to region and among individuals living in the same place.


Amphionids were formerly grouped with coral and snapping shrimps on the basis of their similar larval forms. In 1973, they were reclassified in the new order Amphionidacea. This placement was based on the adult female's unique brood chamber and the ribbonlike structure of the pleopods. Before anything was known about their development, scientists thought the various larval stages of the only known species were distinct species and described them as new.

Nothing is known about their mating habits. The eggs pass from openings at the bases of the sixth pair of thoracic limbs These unique crustaceans are of interest to scientists who study crustaceans and how they survive in their environment. (Illustration by Bruce Worden. Reproduced by permission.) into the brood chamber underneath the thorax. It is likely that they are fertilized in the chamber. The developing eggs probably remain in the chamber until they hatch. Hatchlings probably escape through the gap created when the female loosens or removes her ribbonlike pleopods.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related SpeciesAmphionids: Amphionidacea - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, AMPHIONIDS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS