With three pairs of feeding legs instead of the standard two, the seldom found Endevourid amphipod Crustaceans, make you check thrice.

A study of museum collections from more than six research vessels operating from 1938 onwards and recognition of four new species, led to a world review of some rare (and curious) sea creatures, the amphipod Crustaceans in the Endevouridae Family.

Everyone knows amphipods have seven pairs of walking legs (pereopods), although we refer to the first two as gnathopods since they are involved in feeding. This is why endevourids are a nice surprise, looking like a standard creature from afar, it is only when you prise the legs away from their tucked position in the body, you realise you have more gnathopods than they rightfully should. It makes you double-take while looking down the microscope, you start to consider if you have happened on an abnormal specimen, or worse, a left-over gnathopod from the previous specimen you just handled. Hence check thrice.

I wish I had more to tell you about these 2.5 – 9 mm marine creatures, but being seldom collected the information we have on Endevourids is limited. They have been collected from sea sponges, coarse sand and sunken wood up to 2, 000 m deep. Our own museum staff have sampled them in coastal waters just 2 m deep in Western Australia. Geographically, records show Endevourids can pop-up anywhere from Japan to Southern Australia, as well as Madagascar, Corsica, Bermuda and the Beagle Channel.

Hopefully after our review, which includes a key to the 19 known world species, more researchers will recognise endevourids in samples and build a better of picture of these creatures. In the meantime four new species from Australia adds to our described biodiversity and assists in managing our marine fauna.

(For those with sharp eyes, the ‘a’ is not missing in Endevoura. The genus is named from a Fisheries Investigator Ship – FIS Endeavour, the author of the genus stated that he took the liberty of altering the spelling yet did not specify why)

Dr Lauren Hughes
Postdoctoral Researcher

More information:
Lowry, J.K. & Hughes, L.E. (2015). Endevouridae, a review with description of four new species (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Lysianassoidea). Zootaxa, 4018 (1), 1–34.