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Are prawns and shrimps the same thing or are they different? Basically, I think they're the same but one of my friends was arguing that they're similar but definitely not the same thing and they differ in size.

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There's some information on Wikipedia, though most of it's covered in the answers. – David Richerby Jul 1 '14 at 18:25
up vote 42 down vote accepted

Biologically speaking, they are actually different species, but the names are so commonly used interchangeably as to completely muddle the distinctions. For example, spot prawns are actually shrimp while ridgeback shrimp are actually prawns.

Prawns have claws on three of their five pairs of legs, shrimp have claws on two of their five pairs of legs. Their gills and body shape are different too.

As far as cooking them goes, they are virtually identical and interchangeable.

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Source

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Source: Rahul Chaitanya’s Weblog

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Great answer, being Australian I thought it was mainly a terminology difference but I can see now looking at the diagrams I've never actually bought any shrimp at least not fresh. – PeterJ Jul 1 '14 at 9:20
    
Is there any difference in taste? – Divi Jul 1 '14 at 10:05
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@Divi Nope, none that I can sense anyway. To me the thing that influences flavor the most is whether they are wild or farmed. I find the wild to be far superior. – Jolenealaska Jul 1 '14 at 10:06

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