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Any of more than 8,000 species (order Decapoda) of crustaceans having five pairs of legs attached to the thorax. The shrimps and shrimplike species, which can be as small as 0.5 in. (12 mm) long, have a slender body with a long abdomen, a well-developed fantail, and, often, long, slender legs. The crabs and crablike species, whose claw span can measure 13 ft (4 m), have a flattened body and, frequently, stout short legs and a reduced tail fan. Decapods are primarily marine and are most abundant in shallow tropical waters, but they are commercially valuable throughout the world. Some species (e.g., hermit and fiddler crabs) are adapted to terrestrial environments. See alsocrab; crayfish; lobster; shrimp.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on decapod, visit Britannica.com.