Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Prawns are edible, shrimp-like crustaceans, belonging to the sub-order Dendrobranchiata. They are distinguished from the superficially similar shrimp by the gill structure which is branching in prawns (hence the name, dendro="tree"; branchia="gill"), but is lamellar in shrimp. The sister taxon to Dendrobranchiata is Pleocyemata, which contains all the true shrimp, crabs, lobsters, etc.
The name "prawn" is often mis-applied, most often to shrimp, generally the larger species, such as Leander serratus; in the United States, according to the 1911 Encyclopedia, the word "prawn" usually indicates a fresh-water shrimp or prawn. In Middle English, the word "prawn" is recorded as prayne or prane; no cognate form can be found in any other language. It has often been connected to the Latin perna, a ham-shaped shellfish, but this is due to an old scholarly error that connected perna and parnocchie with prawne-fishes or shrimps. In fact, the Old Italian perna and pernocchia meant a shellfish that yielded nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
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