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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Class Remipedia
Order Nectiopoda
Family Godzilliidae

Godzilligonomus frondosus Yager, 1989


Taxonomic Characterization:
Smallest species of remipede. No eyes. Has the most consistent number of trunk segments, with a maximum number of 16. Pleura with posterolateral projections. Sternites forming plates with posterolateral projections; sternal bars narrow, undifferentiated. Cephalic shield with convex lateral margin at insertion of antenna 1; posterior margin obtusely triangular (Yager, 1989).

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: Average body length was 6.9 mm with a range of 3.9 - 9.3 mm

Number of Species in Genus: One
 

Genus Range:

  • Bahamas:
    • Abaco Island: Godzilligonomus frondosus Yager, 1989
    • Grand Bahama Island: Godzilligonomus frondosus Yager, 1989
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Godzilligonomus: genus range

Species Range: Known from Sagittarius Cave, Virgo Cave, Lucy's Cave and Asgard Cave, Grand Bahama Island and from Dan's Cave, Abaco Island, Bahamas.

Closest Related Species: It is the only known species within the genus. The family Godzilliidae is composed of three genera, which are all anchialine cave-dwelling species from the West Indies. The three genera are very similar in morphology. Godzilliognomus frondosus shares many characters with Godzillius robustus. The ventral ramus of the first antenna of both species is very short and consists of only 2-3 segments. The second maxilla and maxilliped are similar in form with grappling-hook claw arrangements (Yager, 1989).

Habitat: Anchialine limestone caves

Ecology: The animal hangs relatively motionless in the water, with the wave-like metachronal swimming pattern barely perceptible. During attempts to capture specimens with a plastic squeeze bottle, the animals were able to detect the approach and "jumped" through the water column for distances of about 8-12 cm. During observations of live specimens with a dissecting scope, anal pumping was seen on several occasions (Yager, 1989).

Life History: A total of 88 specimens have been collected. Sexually mature individuals have been identified. Sections through the testicular region have revealed sperm in various stages of development as well as mature sperm in the male gonopore region. Also, the same individuals contained mature oocytes in the oviducts, making this species a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Fertilized eggs have not yet been found (Yager, 1989).

Evolutionary Origins: The large number of trunk segments, each with similar, laterally directed, biramous, swimming appendages, plus a combination of the other characteristics necessitated the erection of a new crustacean class, the Remipedia (Yager, 1981). Remipedes are believed to be the most primitive of living crustaceans. The fossil species Tesnusocarisgoldichi Brooks from Late Mississippian deposits in Texas has been placed in this class. The recent discovery of remipedes from anchialine caves in Western Australia is further evidence for a Tethyan distribution (Yager & Humphreys, 1996).

Conservation Status: Restricted to four anchialine caves on Grand Bahama Island and one on Abaco.

References:

  • Yager, J. 1981. Remipedia, a new class of Crustacea from a marine cave in the Bahamas. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 1(3):328-333, 2 figures.
  • Yager, J. 1989. Pleomothra apletocheles and Godzilliognomus frondosus, two new genera and species of remipede crustaceans (Godzilliidae) from anchialine caves of the Bahamas. Bulletin of Marine Science, 44(3): 1195-1206, 7 figures.

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Contributor: Jill Yager, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH


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