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Gundi, Paula; Cecchin, Chiara; Fetzer, Lara-Leonie; Haug, Carolin; Melzer, Roland R. and Haug, Joachim T. (2020): Giant planktic larvae of anomalan crustaceans and their unusual compound eyes. In: Helgoland Marine Research, Vol. 74, No. 1, 8

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Crustacean larvae are usually recognised as small organisms, below one millimeter body size. However, in different crustacean groups such as Stomatopoda, Polychelida, or Achelata, also very large larvae occur with sizes of 20 mm and beyond. Also from few meiuran species ("short-tailed" crustaceans, including crabs, hermit crabs, or squat lobsters), rather large larvae are known, though still considerably smaller than 20 mm. We present here two specimens of anomalan meiuran larvae, each with a total length of 24 mm, which by far exceed the previously known/reported maximum sizes of meiuran larvae. Yet, both specimens exhibit characters that indicate their identity as zoea larvae (first larval phase with several stages), most likely shortly before the metamorphosis to the megalopa (second larval phase with one stage). Due to this early developmental state, it is difficult to provide a narrower systematic identification of the larvae. In addition to the description of the developmental status of all appendages, we also investigated the gizzard and especially the compound eyes. The latter possess a mixture of hexagonal, intermediate, and square-shaped facets in an unusual arrangement. We documented the exact arrangement of the facets in both specimens and discuss the possible re-structuring during metamorphosis. The arrangement of the different types of facets indicates that transformation to an adult eye structure takes place over several moults and that the facets are being rearranged in this process. The findings demonstrate that also meiuran larvae contribute to the fraction of the macro-plankton.

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