|Prawns are decapod crustaceans, belonging to the sub-order Dendrobranchiata.The term "prawn" is also used in various contexts for other animals, especially caridean shrimp
Prawns are similar in appearance to other small, swimming decapods, such as shrimp and boxer shrimp (Stenopodidea), but can be distinguished by the gill structure which is branching in prawns, but is lamellar in shrimp. One exception is the family Luciferidae, which lack gills as adults.
Prawns usually have claws on three pairs of their legs, while shrimp only have claws on two. The sister taxon to Dendrobranchiata is Pleocyemata, which contains all the true shrimp, crabs, lobsters, etc. Unlike almost all other decapods, prawns do not brood their eggs on the pleopods, but release the eggs into the water after fertilisation.
Living prawns are divided among seven families, five in the superfamily Penaeoidea, and two in the Sergestoidea, although molecular evidence disagrees with some aspects of the current classifications
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