Super Crop Challenge #8

Here’s a face you don’t see that often (or at least I don’t).  There’s little doubt about what body parts are shown here, so rather than awarding points for naming structures we’ll treat this as a standard ID Challenge.  However, the categories are a little different from the usual—2 pts each for class, order, family, and genus (I suspect a species ID may not be possible, at least from this photo).  Standard challenge rules apply, including moderated comments (to give everyone a chance to take part) and bonus points awarded on a discretionary basis for a variety of reasons, e.g. as tie-breakers if multiple participants arrive at the same correct answer, providing additional relevant information, humor, etc.  

Reminder: I am quite the pedant—points can be awarded or taken away depending on one’s attention to detail.  Also, when all else fails pity points will be awarded.

Good luck!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

23 thoughts on “Super Crop Challenge #8

  1. Given you were recently at the beach, and this thing appears to have coloration designed to blend in with the sand, I’m thinking it’s a beach critter. Maybe an isopod? Class Malacostraca, Order Isopoda. I’ll have to come back to this since I’m supposed to be working. 🙂

  2. Class Malacostraca
    Order Isopoda
    Family Ligiidae
    Ligia sp.

    Being landlocked, I don’t see rock slaters very often! I remember the last time too. It was January 1, 2008 on No Name Key. I was looking for Mangrove Cuckoos (Coccyzus minor), which I did not see.

  3. Hmmmm, I’m guessing some sort of wood louse, so that would make it Crustacea–>Malacostraca–>Peracarida–>Isopoda–>Oniscidea. After combing the BugGuide images, I’d guess it’s a Rock Slater (family Ligiidae) of the genus Ligia Fabricius, 1798 based on the shape and structure of the eyes (they’re more bulbous than most wood lice I can recall).

    Now for some extrapolation. Assuming my ID of Ligia is correct, and that this photo is from your recent trip to Florida, there are 2 species which occur in Florida; Ligia oceanica (Linneaus, 1767) and L. baudiniana Milne Edwards, 1849. Of those two, it seems L. oceanica is huge by isopod standards, and considerably dorsoventrally compressed. That means I’m going to go with L. baudiniana as my tentative species ID based solely on a weak family ID and access to too much information!

    Source for distribution data:

  4. I’ll be out all day and evening, so I’m going to have to throw taxonomic caution to the wind and go with gestalt:

    The animal looks like a more or less dorso-ventrally flattened crustacean to me and one that inhabits areas with significant light, is covered with at least a film of water, and has only one pair of antennae. That suggests an intertidal isopod. A common family is the Ligiidae, but the antennae seem too gracile.

    Anyway, given the flux in crustacean systematics and with no implications of named rank or monophyly, here are the names I would attach:

    Arthropoda, ‘Crustacea’ Brunnich, 1772
    Malacostraca Latreille, 1802
    Peracaridida Calman, 1904
    Isopoda Latreille, 1817
    Oniscidea Latreille, 1802
    Ligiamorpha Vandel, 1943
    Diplocheta Vandel, 1957
    LIgioidea Leach, 1814 (couldn’t actually find this name anywhere, but Leach generated the family and he gets the rest of the family group names according to the Code)
    Ligiidae Leach, 1814
    Ligia Fabricius, 1798 – species unknown

    There – either a triumph or one of the most comprehensive failures known to Super Crop Challenge! That should be worth at least a point.

    • Your gestalt is better than mine! Yes, 2 pts for class, order, family, and genus gives you 8 pts. As this turns out not to be a “comprehensive failure” I can’t give you any pity points, but your carefully constructed and nicely presented full taxonomic heirarchy is worth at least a bonus point (to serve as a tiebreaker).

      Total = 9 pts.

  5. Well, since you’re still not giving clues for mousing-over the photos, I had to dig a little deeper (: I started out by searching “Florida amphipods”, but there were very few good close-ups showing the face. When I finally found some, the eyes and head shape weren’t quire right. Sticking along the lines of amphipod-like crustaceans, I next searched for photos of “Florida isopods.” I soon found some decent close-ups (though not as good as yours), labeled as sea slaters, that seemed to match your photo. So, I’m gonna go with Class–Malacostraca, Order–Isopoda, Family–Ligiidae, Genus–Ligia.

    • Well, the fact that I was giving points for class was a clue that this was something other than an insect.

      Actually I thought the face looked like that of a teneral cockroach!

      One pity point for you! 🙂

  6. Well, let’s see. Well developed compound eyes, and only two antennae, probably means it’s in the class Insecta. The antennae are fairly simple, with no sockets on the head and only a couple of segments before what looks like a long, straight segment, which leaves out all the insects that have complicated antennae. Also, there are no visible maxillae and not much in the way of mandibles, so it’s probably not a cricket. I’d say something in the order Hemiptera, suborder Heteroptera seems most likely.

    It has kind of a soft, unfinished look to it, so I’ll guess it’s some sort of nymph. Its eyes are actually shaped kind of like giant water bug eyes (family Belostomatidae), except for the little detail that giant water bugs don’t appear to have visible antennae. Darn. OK, I’m stuck.

    • Like I told Laurie, adding class to the taxonomic categories earning points was a clue that it was not an insect.

      I wish I could award some kind of bonus point for your deductive reasoning, but since it’s wrong…

      Okay, 1 pity point for you! 🙂

      • Argh! I actually realized that “class” suggested the possibility of non-insect, but I have read so many times that “crustaceans have 4 antennae” that I actually believed it. So does this specimen have two more antennae stashed away somewhere, or is that whole 4-antennae thing more of a broad guideline than an actual characteristic of crustaceans?

        • All “crustaceans” have 2 pair of antennae, but in terrestrial ispods (actually all species of Oniscoidea, the largest suborder of Isopoda) the first pair is rudimentary (they’re called antennules) and barely visible – it only looks like they have a single pair.

          This challenge was all about gestalt, as there are no “key” characters in the photo to go on. Believe me – as a landlocked Midwesterner I can sympathize with your plight! 🙂

  7. Probably a ‘sea slater’ of some kind. After all, you aren’t from the coast and it’s not like you’d see these every day (as mentioned in the post.) Of course, I have no idea what species this is so I’ll choose the most common variety: Ligia oceanica

    Class: Malacostraca
    Order: Isopoda
    Genus: Ligia

    • Very good – 2 pts each for class, order, family, and genus gives you 8 pts. Unfortunately, the species is wrong (although you would have no way of deciding from this photo); but since you tendered a reasonable guess anyway I’m going to award a bonus point for that.

      Total = 9 pts. I presume your comment was not intended to be anonymous—if this is true please let me know who you are so I can properly record your points.

  8. Pingback: Creepy crawly crustaceans « Beetles In The Bush


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