Saturday 22 August 2015

Creature 326: Stygotantulus stocki

Parasites on plankton
Stygotantulus stocki is a parasitic maxillopod crustacean.
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It is an ecroparasite, which means it latches onto its prey from the outside and sucks. The crazy thing is that these guys specialize of parasitise tiny little microscopic crustaceans called Harpacticoid copepods. Harpacticoid copepods usually livenon the ocean floor but a few are pelagic plankton so I am not technically wrong when I say Stygotantulus stocki is a parasite on plankton. 

In order to do this they need to become tiny. They grow up to 94 micrometers long, that's about 0.1mm. This makes them the smallest arthropods known to man, and one of the smallest animals.

Stygotantulus stocki is known from European waters.

These tiny crustaceans belong to a maxillopod subclass called Tantulocarida. It is a small group of less than 50 species and while 5 families have been erected there is no ordinal classification.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Maxillopoda
Order: n/a
Family: Basipodellidae
Genus: Stygotantulus
Species: Stygotantulus stocki

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