RESOURCES: Crayfish Den

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Science  31 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5573, pp. 1575
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5573.1575c

They're known as crayfish, crawdads, crawfish, or mud bugs. The Crayfish Home Page proves that there's much more to these close kin of lobsters than just providing the key ingredient for jambalaya. Systematist Keith Crandall of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, created the site in 1994 to answer the questions of inquisitive amateurs and crustacean researchers hungry for technical details.

Crayfish are ancient creatures; fossils from nearly 300 million years ago have been found in Antarctica. The group's diversity today—600-plus species—sometimes comes as a shock, Crandall says: “People are surprised that there's more than one species.” The site reviews the taxonomy of the three known families and provides species checklists for all 50 states and for the more than 30 other countries with native forms. (Fallicambarus devastator, found in eastern Texas.) More than half of crayfish are in trouble, and the site includes a list of the endangered and threatened species in the United States. Crandall—whose site is part of the Tree of Life, a broader Internet biodiversity project—plans to update the taxonomic accounts to cover all known species.

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