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Biologists Discover Carnivorous Fairy Shrimp

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Biologists Discover Carnivorous Fairy Shrimp

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Biologists Discover Carnivorous Fairy Shrimp

Biologists Discover Carnivorous Fairy Shrimp

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4541756/4562790" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Biologists with the Idaho National Guard have discovered a new species of fairy shrimp in the lakebeds of Idaho's desert.

The translucent crustacean, which can grow up to three inches long, can survive hot desert summers and freezing winters in egg form, emerging only when enough rain falls to create pools of water.

From left to right, a female and male of the newly discovered species of fairy shrimp. Idaho National Guard hide caption

toggle caption Idaho National Guard

From left to right, a female and male of the newly discovered species of fairy shrimp.

Idaho National Guard

"It's kind of like a watery feather with an attitude," says military biologist Dana Quinney. "It's got a lot of little legs that it beats around, and it is constantly searching for things to bite and ingest."

And ingest it does. The shrimp goes after smaller pond dwellers with abandon, snagging its victims — including its relatives — with sharp claws and sticking them to the velcro-like surface of its body.

Correction April 7, 2005

This story says decades had passed since a new species had been discovered in the United States. Many listeners pointed out the inaccuracy. See the April 3 story below for clarification.

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