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Hell Creek Cave Crayfish (Cambarus zophonastes)

Domain: Eukarya
Organisms are multicellular with nuclei and membrane-bound organelles such as the mitochondria, golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, and more. There are unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes. Nearly all organisms we are familiar with are eukaryotes such as the cute Leapord Cat and the Giant River Otter.

Kingdom: Animalia
All organisms in the kingdom are multicellular eukaryotes, ingestive heterotrophs. They have some sort of support structures, with organized organelles, they have specialized cells and reproduce sexually. Animals include the charismatic megafauna such as the Honey Badger or the Kodkod.

Phylum: Arthropoda
They are animals that have an exoskeleton, a segmented body, jointed appendages, compound eyes, and specialized mouth parts. Arthropods used their hard exoskeletons for protection, and also attachment sites for muscles. Other Arthropods include the Tasmanian Cave Spider and the Exploding Ant.

Class: Malacostraca
These are animals that have a shell for an exoskeleton that molts, it contains more animals than any other class. Other animals in the Malacostraca are crabs, lobsters, shrimp, krill, woodlice, scuds, and the Mantis Shrimp.

Order: Decapoda
Those in the Malacostraca that have 10 legs. Most of the Decapoda are scavengers, with 15,000 different species, over half being crabs, and the shrimp and anomura making up the bulk of the other half. A cousin of the crayfish, also a member of the Decapoda is the interesting Alabama Cave Shrimp.

Family: Cambaridae
Family of freshwater crayfish, it is the largest of the 3 familis of freshwater crayfish with over 400 species. The majority of the species belonging to the family are found in North America.

Genus: Cambarus
Freshwater crayfish that are found in North America, most are small crayfish found in slow moving water.

Species: Cambarus zophonastes
Hell Creek Cave Crayfish. The scientific name means a crayfish that lacks pigment in the body or the eyes. This is the lovely character that you will be learning all about on our page.

The Cambaridae family is made up of 12 different freshwater crayfish genera. 3 of the 12 genera, Cambarus, Orconectes, and Procambarus, are species rich, which means that they are comprised of 90+ species. The Cambarus genus is divided into multiple subgenera that are based on the chelae morphology. The Jugicambarus subgenus is what causes the Cambarus genus to be nonmonophyletic. That is because it is not geographically located within the main distribution of Cambarus species, which is mainly in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. (Breinholt, 2012)

This is a phylogenetic tree of a number of the Cambarus species.  The species that are closely related to it are also cave crayfish.  A feature that they share is that they all lack pigment.  Some of these species include Cambarus subterraneus and Cambarus aculabrum.  They are all in different regions of the country but all have very similar habitats.