Posted October 18, 2012
by Lensyl Urbano
Our middle-school dissections have moved on from hearts to whole organisms. This week: jumbo shrimp.
I particularly like these decapods because the external anatomy is simple but interesting, including: eyes on stalks; a segmented body; 5 pairs of swimming legs; 5 pairs of walking legs. The simple, clear layout make them a good subject for students to work on improving the accuracy of their full-scale drawings.
The internal anatomy is a bit harder to distinguish, however, since the organs are relatively small. Most of my students found it difficult to remove the carapace without smushing everything inside the thorax, which includes the stomach, heart, and digestive gland.
The abdominal segments were easy to slice through, on the other hand, and we were able to identify the hindgut (intestine), which runs the length of the back side, and the blueish-colored, nerve cord that is nearer the front (ventral) side.
Under the microscope, you could see little mineral grains in the contents of the gut. Although I did not manage to, I wanted to also mount the thin membrane beneath the carapace on a slide. If I had, we might have been able to see the chromatophores, “star- or amoeba-shaped pigment-containing organs capable of changing the color of the integument” (Fox, 2001).
Richard Fox (2001) has a good reference diagram and description of brown shrimp anatomy.
M. Tavares, has compiled some very detailed shrimp diagrams (pdf) (originally from Ptrez Farfante and Kensley, 1997)