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(Montagu, 1804)

Description:
Urosome segment 1 with a single dorsal tooth, segment 2 with two smaller dorsolateral teeth each with a spinule close to the base. Coxal plate 6 in female with the anterior lobe forming a broad hook. Epimeral plate 3 posterodistal angle with a small tooth, distal margin feebly crenulate. Head with the lateral lobes obliquely rounded with a narrow cleft above the post-antennal angle; eyes small, rounded. Antenna 1 and 2 only moderately setose; antenna 1 peduncle article 1 with three to five small ventral spines, article 3 little less than half the length of article 2, flagellum up to about 25-articulate; accessory flagellum 2 to 4-articulate. Antenna 2 peduncle little longer than the peduncle of antenna 1, flagellum up to about 10-articulate. Male gnathopod 1 propodus shorter than the carpus, both strongly setose, propodus with the anterodistal margin broadly rounded to overlap the base of the dactylus, palm deeply excavate with a spinose proximal lobe. Female gnathopod 1 similar to the male one, except that the propodus is less produced distally and the palm less deeply excavate. Female gnathopod 2 larger than gnathopod 1, merus acute distally, carpus with a broad setose posterior lobe, propodus suboval, palm oblique, feebly sinuous, palmar margin with a few setae and spinules, delimited by a small submarginal spine. Male gnathopod 2 very large and quite characteristic, merus acute distally, carpus short and setose, propodus very broad across the distal margin, inner surface concave and densely setose, dactylus closing across the inner surface of the propodus: propodus much less expansive in small and juvenile specimens. Pereiopods 5 to 7 robust and spinose. Uropod 3 outer ramus elongate, spinose, inner ramus very small. Telson cleft to base, each lobe with inner-marginal and apical spines.

Size:
Up to about 16 mm.

Colour:
Pale yellowish or blue-grey, pereiopods often banded.

Habitat:
Depth range from the intertidal to about 50 metres; locally common. This species prefers sheltered beaches and is usually found on sediments of sand or mud with stones or cobbles, and tolerates a very wide range of salinity.

Distribution:
North-East Atlantic; European coasts from the central Baltic to the Mediterranean and Black Sea; Azores; Canary Islands.

Melita palmata