Prawns are crustaceans with a shell, five pairs of swimming legs (pleopods), five pairs of walking legs, three with claws, and a tail.
Prawns must periodically shed their shell (a process called moulting) so they can grow. The shell is made of protein, calcium carbonate and chitin (a substance that resembles the protein in human hair and nails). Before shedding, the prawn re-absorbs most of the protein and chitin from the old shell as the new one forms underneath, and increases water intake to create a space between the body and the new shell.
The soft-shelled prawn emerges from the old shell through a split between the carapace (the shell covering the body area) and tail. The new shell hardens and the prawn grows into it.


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