Environment Gender-swapping, waterfall-hopping shrimp discovered in Queensland

Gender-swapping, waterfall-hopping shrimp discovered in Queensland

There’s something in the waters in north Queensland – something a little unusual.

Scientists have discovered a new species of shrimp which scales 100-metre high waterfalls, changes gender, and uses nets on its front legs to eat.

The Australatya hawkei has an action-packed lifecycle.

Born male, the larvae are swept from freshwater streams high in the mountains out to sea. Juveniles begin the epic journey home, conquering river currents and scaling waterfalls.

When they are half-grown, the shrimp switch sex, with the now-females laying the eggs that will begin the process all over again.

The filter-feeding shrimp, with their distinctive ‘nets’ on their front legs, were discovered by researchers from Southern Cross University, REST Energy and Griffith University.

Dr Ben Mos said the new species’ climbing skills were quite incredible:

“This species of shrimp climbs out of the water to scale 100-metre-high cliffs beside waterfalls. It’s an amazing feat for an animal that normally lives in water,” Dr Mos said.

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