Alien-like shrimp discovered living in a cave

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These rather scary-looking skeleton shrimp have been discovered in a cave off Catalina Island in California.

Despite their alien-like appearance, they're actually tiny, with adult males reaching only 3.3 mm/0.12" in length, while the females are even smaller. In fact, its scientific name Liropus minusculus, alludes to its size. This latest discovery is the smallest in what is now nine Liropus species, and it's the first to be discovered in the north-east Pacific.

Despite the common name, these crustaceans are not actually shrimp, but caprellid amphipods which cling to rocks and plants and feed on algae and larvae that drift by.

These shrimps were collected in a cave around 9m/30' below the surface of the ocean and were housed in vials at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

On a visit to the museum, José Manuel Guerra-García, an expert from the University of Seville in Spain, realised the shrimp was a new species. The results of his study are published in Zootaxa.

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