Guide to the Coastal Marine Isopods of California

Richard Brusca, Vania R. Coelho, and Stefano Taiti

Table of Contents

Suborder Anthuridea

(Key references: Menzies, 1951A; Menzies and Barnard, 1959; Negoescu and Wägele, 1984; Poore, 1984; Kensley and Schotte, 1989; Cadien and Brusca, 1993; Wetzer and Brusca, 1997)

Anthurideans are long, slender, subcylindrical isopods, with a length usually 6-15 times the width. The pereonites are mostly longer than wide (in contrast to most isopods, in which the reverse is true), and the dorsum often bears distinctive ridges, grooves or chromatophore patterns. Distinct coxal plates are rarely evident. The pleonites are often fused in various combinations, and pleonite 6 usually has its line of fusion with the telson demarcated by a deep dorsal groove. The first antennae are short (except in males of some species), as are the second antennae. The mandibles lack a distinct lacinia mobilis or spine row, instead usually having a dentate lobe or plate ( the "lamina dentata"). The outer ramus of the maxillule is a slender stylet with terminal spines; the maxillae are rudimentary. The maxillipeds are more-or-less fused to the head and lack coupling setae on the endites.

Anthurideans are thought to be primarily carnivores, feeding on small invertebrates. Most inhabit littoral or shallow shelf environments, although some deep benthic (and some freshwater) species are also known. Many are known to be protogynous sequential hermaphrodites, and males have not yet been reported for several species. Fewer than 600 species of anthurideans have been named, but many remain undescribed. Four families of Anthuridea are currently recognized, distinguished primarily by characters of the mouthparts and pleon: Hyssuridae, Antheluridae, Anthuridae, Paranthuridae — the latter two occur in California waters.

(figures 9-12)

Key to Intertidal Species of Anthuridea

1. Mouthparts stylet-like, adapted for piercing and sucking, forming a conelike structure; mandible usually with smooth incisor, no molar process or lamina dentata; pleonites 1-6 usually with distinct sutures. Paranthuridae 2
- Mouthparts adapted for cutting and chewing; mandible usually with molar process, lamina dentata and toothed incisor; all or most pleonites usually fused. Anthuridae 3
2. Mandibular palp lacking; six pairs of pereopods; pleon little longer than pereonites 6+7. Colanthura bruscai
- Mandibular palp present; seven pairs of pereopods; pleon shorter than pereonites 6+7. Paranthura elegans
3. Maxilliped of four articles (at least three free); no pigmentation pattern on pereonites. Cyathura munda
- Maxilliped of five articles; pereonites 1—6 each with a rectangular outline of pigment, characteristically discontinuous on each segment, and segment 7 with posterior tranverse pigmentation. Mesanthura occidentalis
About This Page

Richard Brusca
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Vania R. Coelho
Dominican University of California, San Rafael, California, USA

Stefano Taiti

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Richard Brusca at and Vania R. Coelho at

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