These crustaceans found by University of Louisiana of Lafayette researchers aren't going to the next crawfish boil — they're going to the Smithsonian.
The UL Lafayette Zoological Crustacean Collection may be the largest archive of marine decapod specimens from the Americas, according to a press release from the university.
The collection includes more than 100,000 preserved crabs, shrimp, lobsters and other crustaceans that researchers collected over the past 40 years. They were gathered near Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico, Nicaragua, Belize, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and the Gulf of Mexico.
The specimens will be relocated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Darryl Felder, a professor in the Department of Biology, worked with graduate students, faculty researchers and other collaborators to build the collection and maintain its specimens, said Azmy S. Ackleh, Ph.D., dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.
Decapods are a scientific order of crustaceans encompassing nearly 15,000 unique species, including shrimp, crawfish and lobsters. Five pairs of thoracic legs, equaling 10 limbs, give the order its name; deca is Greek for “10;” pod means “foot.”
The collection also includes a database for the crustaceans, research notes and more than 50,000 photographs Felder took before the specimens were preserved.