Several shrimp species from the clade Penaeidae are farmed industrially for human consumption, and this farming has turned shrimp into the largest seafood commodity in the world. The species that are in demand for farming are an anomaly within their clade because they grow to much larger sizes than other members of Penaeidae. Here we trace the evolutionary history of the anomalous farmed shrimp using combined data phylogenetic analysis of living and fossil species. We show that exquisitely preserved fossils of †Antrimpos speciosus from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen limestone belong to the same clade as the species that dominate modern farming, dating the origin of this clade to at least 145 mya. This finding contradicts a much younger Late Cretaceous age (ca. 95 mya) previously estimated for this clade using molecular clocks. The species in the farmed shrimp clade defy a widespread tendency, by reaching relatively large body sizes despite their warm water lifestyles. Small body sizes have been shown to be physiologically favored in warm aquatic environments because satisfying oxygen demands is difficult for large organisms breathing in warm water. Our analysis shows that large-bodied, farmed shrimp have more gills than their smaller-bodied shallow-water relatives, suggesting that extra gills may have been key to the clade's ability to meet oxygen demands at a large size. Our combined data phylogenetic tree also suggests that, during penaeid evolution, the adoption of mangrove forests as habitats for young shrimp occurred multiple times independently.
Robalino, J., Wilkins, B., Bracken-Grissom, H. D., Chan, T. Y., & O’Leary, M. A. (2016). The origin of large-bodied shrimp that dominate modern global aquaculture. PLoS ONE, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158840