Shrimp and prawn might have certain similarities, but they are not the same, especially when you consider certain physical features of the two. These little differences are as a result of their differing suborders. Both shrimp and prawns belong to the same order Decapoda, but each belongs to different suborders; suborder Pleocyemata for shrimp, and suborder Dendrobranchiata for prawn.
This explains why shrimp and prawns differ when you compare certain morphological features of the two. Although both have the same exoskeleton and three body segments i.e., head, thorax, and abdomen, the head and abdomen are overlapped by the thorax in shrimp, while the head overlaps the thorax and thorax overlaps the abdomen in prawn.
Another differentiating feature is the length of their legs. Prawns certainly have longer legs compared to shrimp. While the word shrimp is common in some countries in North America, the word prawn is used in other parts to the world for the same animal.
Well, if you want to differentiate between these two creatures: shrimps and prawns, you may find it really difficult to do that physically. Let us take it biologically! When we are referring to their taxonomy, shrimp is referred to as a crustacean. It belongs to the suborder pleocyemata and the order Decapoda.
Conversely, prawn is also a crustacean. It belongs to the suborder Dendrobranchiata and the order Decapoda. This simply means they are a bit different in their morphology. The exoskeleton of shrimp is thin and hard, with their body divided into three separate segments, which are head, thorax, and abdomen.
The thorax is the biggest part of these body segments. When it comes to the exoskeleton and body segment of a prawn, it is the same as that of shrimp. But in their three segmented body, the head is the biggest, and the thorax is also bigger than the abdomen. Prawns have longer legs when compared to the shrimp's three short front legs.