A Phronima amphipod. (Photo by Larry Madin, WHOI)
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Some amphipods look like monsters out a science fiction movie. This Phronima certainly does! They also have a science-fiction-style relationship with the salps that they use for hosts. Phronima has huge eyes and large hooked claws for holding on to its jelly-like host. When they are ready to lay eggs, Phronima will grab a salp, and first eat the salp’s insides away, leaving a hollow barrel behind. They use their knife-like mouth parts to cut and trim the barrel into a tubular house to live in. Then they lay eggs on the inside surface of the barrel, and swim around, holding on to the barrel-house, letting the gentle current wash over the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the adult continues to “watch over” her babies, swimming or carrying the barrel that used to be a salp.
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