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Temporal range: upper Devonianpresent, 365–0 Ma
The amphipod Bathyporeia elegans with an egg in its marsupium
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Malacostraca
Subclass: Eumalacostraca
Superorder: Peracarida
Calman, 1904 [1]

The superorder Peracarida is a large group of malacostracan crustaceans, having members in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats. They are chiefly defined by the presence of a brood pouch, or marsupium, formed from thin flattened plates (oostegites) borne on the basalmost segments of the legs.[2] Peracarida is one of the largest crustacean taxa and includes about 12,000 species. Most members are less than 2 cm (0.8 in) in length,[3] but the largest is probably the giant isopod (Bathynomus giganteus) which can reach 76 cm (30 in). The earliest known perecaridian was Oxyuropoda ligioides, a fossil of which has been found dating to the Late Devonian (more than 360 mya) of Ireland.[4]


General bauplan of a peracarid mandibula: 1. Molar process; 2. Spine row; 3. Lacinia mobilis; 4. Incisor process; 5. Palp

The most obvious characteristic of the group is the marsupium in females. This brood pouch is enclosed by the large, flexible oostergites, bristly flaps which extend from the basal segments of the thoracic appendages, which form the floor of a chamber roofed by the animal's sternum. This chamber is where the eggs are brooded, development being direct in most cases.[3] Other characteristics include the possession of a single pair of maxillipeds (rarely 2–3), of mandibles with an articulated accessory process between the molar and incisor teeth in the adults (called the lacinia mobilis), and of a carapace which is often reduced in size and is not fused with the posterior thoracic somites.[5] In some orders, the young hatch at a post-larval, prejuvenile stage called a manca which lacks the last pair of legs.[5] In the underground order Thermosbaenacea, there are no oostergites and the carapace of the female is expanded to form a dorsal marsupium.[3]


There is some disagreement as to which orders should be included within Peracarida. The World Register of Marine Species WoRMS (2023) includes the following 12 orders:[6]

Of these Bochusacea, Ingolfiellida and Stygiomysida have been added since the classification of Martin & Davies (2001).[7] Ruppert et al. (2004) excluded Thermosbaenacea and placed it in a separate order, Pancarida. They also still kept Lophogastrida, Mysida and Pygocephalomorpha in a single order Mysidacea,[3] an arrangement that was disputed by Meland and Willassen (2007) since molecular data shows that the three orders are not closely related.[8]


  1. ^ W. T. Calman (1904). "On the Classification of the Crustacea Malacostraca" (PDF). Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 13 (74): 144–158. doi:10.1080/00222930408562451.
  2. ^ G. C. B. Poore (2002). "Superorder: Peracarida Calman, 1905". Crustacea: Malacostraca. Syncarida, Peracarida: Isopoda, Tanaidacea, Mictacea, Thermosbaenacea, Spelaeogriphacea. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 19.2A. CSIRO Publishing. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-643-06901-5.
  3. ^ a b c d Ruppert, E. E.; Fox, R. S.; Barnes, R. D. (2004). Invertebrate Zoology, 7th edition. Cengage Learning. pp. 651–652. ISBN 978-81-315-0104-7.
  4. ^ Robin, N.; Gueriau, P.; Luque, J.; Jarvis, D.; Daley, A. C.; Vonk, R. (2021). "The oldest peracarid crustacean reveals a Late Devonian freshwater colonization by isopod relatives". Biology Letters. 17 (6). The Royal Society: 20210226. bioRxiv 10.1101/2021.04.25.441336. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2021.0226. ISSN 1744-957X. PMC 8205522. PMID 34129798.
  5. ^ a b "Peracarida". Guide to the marine zooplankton of south eastern Australia. Tasmanian Aquaculture & Fisheries Institute. June 2008. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  6. ^ Peracarida World Register of Marine Species 5 Aug 2023
  7. ^ Martin, J. W. & G. E. Davis (2001). An Updated Classification of the Recent Crustacea (PDF). Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. pp. 132 pp.
  8. ^ Meland, K.; Willassen, E. (2007). "The disunity of "Mysidacea" (Crustacea)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 44 (3): 1083–1104. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.02.009. PMID 17398121.

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