Desert Alive! is a new feature of ALEC's Thorny News, where we profile the interesting flora and fauna of our iconic desert country. This week, in belated celebration of World Wetlands Day on the 2nd February, let's take a look at the shield shrimp (Triops Australiensis).

A few weeks ago the rains came to central Australia, giving shield shrimp eggs the chance to hatch - spawning thousands of these strange, prehistoric-looking beasties! The eggs can lie dormant for years, even drying out and blowing around in the wind.

Maybe that's how the shrimp got into pools on the top of Uluru...

The shrimp have a third eye, called the naupliar eye, which grows during the larval stage and helps them move toward or away from light. They are part of a class of crustaceans called branchiopods, which have gills on their feet.

Want to see them in real life? If you're in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, head to the Ilparpa Claypans - you might spot one if you are quiet, patient and don't disturb the water. Do the right thing by this place of natural and spiritual significance by not driving through the water, and take a few pieces of rubbish with you when you go.

Read more about the shrimp here.

Help look after the habitat of creatures like the shield shrimp by joining Friends of the Ilparpa Claypans, or Alice Springs Landcare.

Photo by Mark Marathon, reused without modification under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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