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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fossil range: 250–0 Ma
Litopenaeus vannamei
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Dendrobranchiata
Bate, 1888
Superfamilies and families[1]


Carpopenaeidae †



Penaeidea Dana[2]

Prawns are decapod crustaceans, belonging to the sub-order Dendrobranchiata.[3] The term "prawn" is also used in various contexts for other animals, especially caridean shrimp.[4] They are found worldwide and include commercially significant species, such as the whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, Atlantic white shrimp Penaeus setiferus, Indian prawn Fenneropenaeus indicus, giant river prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii and tiger prawn Penaeus monodon.



Prawns are similar in appearance to other small, swimming decapods, such as shrimp (Caridea) and boxer shrimp (Stenopodidea), but can be distinguished by the gill structure which is branching in prawns (hence the name, dendro = “tree”; branchia = “gill”), but is lamellar in shrimp. One exception is the family Luciferidae, which lack gills as adults.[5] Prawns usually have claws on three pairs of their legs, while shrimp only have claws on two.[6] The sister taxon to Dendrobranchiata is Pleocyemata, which contains all the true shrimp, crabs, lobsters, etc. Unlike almost all other decapods, prawns do not brood their eggs on the pleopods, but release the eggs into the water after fertilisation.[7]


Fossil Aeger (Aegeridae)

Living prawns are divided among seven families, five in the superfamily Penaeoidea, and two in the Sergestoidea,[2] although molecular evidence disagrees with some aspects of the current classifications.[8] Collectively, these include 540 extant species, and nearly 100 exclusively fossil species.[1] A further two families are known only from fossils.[1]

Fossil record

The earliest fossil prawns come from rocks in Madagascar of Permo-Triassic age, 250 million years ago.[9][10] However, they are more well known from the Jurassic Solnhofen limestones from Germany.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Sammy De Grave, N. Dean Pentcheff, Shane T. Ahyong et al. (2009). "A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans". Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Suppl. 21: 1–109. 
  2. ^ a b J. W. Martin & G. E. Davis (2001) (PDF). An Updated Classification of the Recent Crustacea. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. pp. 132 pp. 
  3. ^ Burkenroad, M. D. (1963). "The evolution of the Eucarida (Crustacea, Eumalacostraca), in relation to the fossil record". Tulane Studies in Geology 2 (1): 1–17. 
  4. ^ "General shrimp biology". Museum Victoria. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ Joel W. Martin, Elizabeth M. Liu & Darolyn Striley (2007). "Morphological observations on the gills of dendrobranchiate shrimps". Zoologischer Anzeiger 246: 115–125. 
  6. ^ "Suborder DENDROBRANCHIATA Bate, 1888". Australian Faunal Directory. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. November 19, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ J. K. Lowry (October 2, 1999). "Dendrobranchiata (Decapoda, Eucarida, Malacostraca)". Crustacea, the Higher Taxa. Australian Museum. 
  8. ^ K. Y. Ma, T.-Y. Chan & K. H. Chu (2009). "Phylogeny of penaeoid shrimps (Decapoda: Penaeoidea) inferred from nuclear protein-coding genes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53 (1): 45–55. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.05.019. 
  9. ^ Robert P. D. Crean (November 14, 2004). "Dendrobranchiata". Order Decapoda. University of Bristol. 
  10. ^ a b Frederick R. Schram, Shen Yanbin, Ronald Vonk & Rodney S. Taylor (2000). "The first fossil stenopodidean". Crustaceana 73 (2): 235–242. 

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PRAWN, the name of an edible large shrimp-like crustacean in Great Britain usually applied to Leander serratus (see Shrimp). The word is in M. Eng. prayne or prane, and no cognate forms are found in any other languages. It has been often referred to the Lat. perna, a ham-shaped shellfish, but this is due to Florio, who by a mistake glosses parnocchie, prawne-fishes or shrimps. The O. Ital. perna and pernocchia meant a shellfish which yielded "nacre" or mother-of-pearl.

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Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Dendrobranchiata

The prawn is a crustacean. It is similar to the shrimp, but the gills are different. Prawns are in the suborder Dendrobranchiata.

Prawns are commercially fished, and used for cooking. In that context, the difference between prawn and a shrimp is usually that prawn are larger than shrimp.

Look up Dendrobranchiata in Wikispecies, a directory of species


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