Secrets of the Stomatopod—An Underwater Research Adventure Stomatopod

A blast from the past!

The stomatopod group, which now consists of over 400 described species, split off from other crustaceans around 400 million years ago. Typical of most crustaceans, they had numerous pairs of specialized legs.

Compare the fossil (right) with the drawing below—what parts of the fossil can you identify?

Fossil stomatopod
A stomatopod fossil preserved in rock
Image courtesy of Cees Hof
Diagram of stomatopod
A drawing of a modern stomatopod with the major body parts labeled

Early stomatopods most likely lived in the sand and mud at the bottom of the ocean, sorting through the sediment for food. Around 200 million years ago, one pair of legs evolved into raptorial appendages (or “raps”), powerful hunting tools. This had radical consequences for many aspects of stomatopod behavior.

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