Monday, July 13, 2015

A new ghost shrimp: Lepidophthalmus statoni

Most ghost shrimp live in burrows in muddy bottoms of the world's oceans. Most of the species live in shallow water, with only three taxa living below 2,000 m. They are also sometimes called mud shrimp. Their burrows are often preserved over a long time, and the fossil record of the group reaches back to the late Jurassic.

Ghost shrimp belong to a taxonomic group formerly called Thalassinidea. The 560 members of the group have been redistributed to two groups (Gebiidea and Axiidea). The common name leads to some confusion because a small mostly transparent shrimp genus (Palaemonetes) commonly sold for use in freshwater aquaria is also referred to as ghost shrimp. 

Abstract: A new species of Lepidophthalmus lacking a ventral median sclerite on the second abdominal somite is described from coastal waters of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Lepidophthalmus statoni sp. nov., originally recognized only as a unique population in allozyme studies, is sympatric with the ventrally plated species Lepidophthalmus manningi Felder & Staton, 2000, but more closely resembles Lepidophthalmus louisianensis (Schmitt, 1935) from the northern and northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Apparently restricted to intertidal and shallow subtidal tropical waters, the new species is known to range from western Campeche to middle-upper reaches of Veracruz, Mexico. As many members of the genus, it commonly inhabits euryhaline inlets, estuaries, and protected shorelines, including richly organic muddy to clayey sands and sandy muds adjacent to shoreline vegetation. Coloration is documented and discussed as a tool to facilitate field identifications, as are morphological characters.

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