Ah, the deep sea... It gives you wings!
Or at least a parachute made of legs. Hey, it's the thought that counts...
Strange how very different one's relatives can be.
While woodlice scrabble around in the dark corners of the earth on their numerous little legs and roll up into a ball at the first sign of trouble, Munnopsis swims around in the darkest corner of them all, the deep sea, where they use up a lot more space than their 1 or 2 cm (0.5-1 in) body would suggest.
|Image: University of Bergen|
If a Munnopsis isopod has eyes at all, they're reduced, and while they certainly have an exoskeleton, it's quite thin and weak. So they're glad to lift off from the sea floor, swim about with their little swimming legs and then just relax as their extensive parachute legs allow them to drift peacefully and effortlessly in the grand expanse of the deep. Chances are pretty good they won't bump into anything with teeth and if they do, they can manage a turn of speed to make their escape.
A good escape plan is especially important for females when they're carrying around a precious cargo of developing eggs. It's possible she doesn't even eat at this time, which might mean she needn't touch the seafloor at all. It seems to work out well for them. You can sometimes find hundreds of Munnopsis hanging out together and one species, M. abyssalis, can be found at depths from 1,000 m (3,280 ft) all the way down to 4,000 m (13,000 ft). They've also been found more than 2,000 m (6,500 ft) above the sea floor. That's a long way from food but perhaps they just enjoy a really long parachute jump.