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No colorful bird, but the tender foot of a flea crab of the species Acanthohaustorius spinosus can be seen here. The tiny crustacean collected researchers on the beach of Chesapeake Bay, USA. The only 0.8 millimeter long front leg is equipped with feather-like projections, with which the aquatic animals collect plankton, pass it to the mouth tool, where it is then eaten.

However, flea crabs are also a protein-rich treat for seabirds and thus an important part of their ecosystem. They are part of the order of amphipods whose legs specialize in different functions. For this recording, the chitin of the exoskeleton was stained and recorded under a confocal microscope.

Photo: Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus

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