Azygocypridina lowryi (the 'baked bean')

Iridescent effect of Azygocypridina lowryi.

The iridescent effect from the first antenna of Azygocypridina lowryi. © A Parker

 

Azygocypridina lowryi is a myodocopid ostracod, or 'seed shrimp' found off the east coast of Australia at depths of 100 to 500m. 

Azygocypridina lowryi is common in this region and was named the "baked bean" by local fishermen.

This seed shrimp displays spectacular iridescence. Hairs on the first antennae of Azygocypridina lowryi show spectacular iridescence due to diffraction gratings, like those found on a CD or in holograms on credit cards. This varies from violet to red, as the eye moves around the antenna.The iridescence was the first diffraction grating found in nature. 

The discovery of the diffraction grating phenomenon has led to major international projects to improve understanding of  “optical devices” in nature, with implications for technology.

Professor Andrew Parker researches the evolution of the iridescence, and the possible uses of the diffraction gratings (which cause the colour effect) in technology.

Species detail

Azygocypridina lowryi shrimp-like body is enclosed within an orange-red, oval, two-part shell of about 10-11mm length in the adult

The shell is flattened from side to side and is hard – the two halves are attached at a hinge at the top of the shell, and by muscles that run through the centre of the body from side to side.

  •  Azygocypridina lowryi
    Taxonomy

    Find out about the unique lateral eye of Azygocypridina lowryi, why it is considered a living fossil and the iridescence shown by the hairs on its antennae.

  • Under water in the Great Barrier Reef, on the east coast of Australia.
    Distribution, habitat and conservation

    Find out where in Australia that Azygocypridina lowryi is known from and the type of habitat it is found in.

  • The iridescent effect from the first antenna of the seed-shrimp Azygocypridina lowryi.
    Biology

    Discover what was observed during the only experiment in which Azygocypridina lowryi was kept alive in an aquarium and learn about other known behaviour of the species as well as its life cycle.

  • azygocypridina-lowryi
    References

    Get reference material for Azygocypridina lowryi.

Images

Azygocypridina lowryi a myodocopid ostracod, or 'seed shrimp'.

Azygocypridina lowryi a myodocopid ostracod, or 'seed shrimp'.

© A Parker
Azygocypridina lowryi

The iridescent effect from the first antenna of the seed-shrimp Azygocypridina lowryi.

© A Parker
Azygocypridina lowryi

A scanning electron micrograph shows the diffraction grating on a single hair of Azygocypridina lowryi, with a ridge spacing of 600nm.

© A Parker
Under water in the Great Barrier Reef, on the east coast of Australia.

Under water in the Great Barrier Reef, on the east coast of Australia. 

© R Ling

About the author

Professor Andrew Parker
Prof Andrew Parker

Research Leader in the Crustacea Group specialising in biomimetics, particuarly optical devices, water management structures and strong composite materials found in animals and plants.

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