The differences between prawns and shrimp include their types of gills, how they carry their eggs and the types of plating on their tails. Prawns are generally found in shallower waters than shrimp and closer to the ocean floor, where they burrow into mud during the day.
Shrimp have branching gills, whereas prawns generally have lamella gills. Lamella are collections of small and thin plate-like structures that are highly permeable. Their permeability allows water and oxygen to flow easily across the lamella membrane, allowing the prawn to breath.
Another distinction between shrimp and prawns is how they carry their eggs. Prawns generally carry their eggs within their bodies, while shrimp carry their eggs on their tails. The physical anatomy of shrimp and prawns differs with respect to how the plated segments of their lower bodies overlap. In shrimp, every other segment overlaps both the segment in front of it and the segment behind it. In prawns, each segment only overlaps the one directly behind it.
Another difference between prawns and shrimp concerns their legs. The first three of a prawn's legs end in tiny pincers, while only one or two pairs of shrimp legs have pincers. In addition, some shrimp have legs of different sizes, whereas prawn legs are generally uniform.