Shield Shrimp

Triops australiensis

Shield Shrimp, Triops australiensis

Shield Shrimps are the most strange looking and distinctive of all desert crustaceans, and occur over much of inland Australia. Populations of these peculiar creatures explode following rain, and they can be found teeming in the temporary pools and water filled clay pans.

They belong to a group of crustaceans called "branchiopods", which literally means that they possess "gill feet": leaf-like, lobed feet, each bearing a gill plate to enable them to breathe.

The "shield" is a carapace that protects the head and frontal portion of the multi-segmented body.

Females carry their eggs under the body but otherwise the sexes are alike. The eggs are highly resistant to drying out, and they can survive for many years in the desert clay before hatching.

Colour is typically olive green to brown. Adult shrimp reach about 90 mm in body length.

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