Shimmering carapaces and rattling claws make colourful freshwater crabs attractive to pet keepers. To answer the demand, fishermen are busy collecting and trading with the crustaceans, often not knowing what exactly they have handed over to their client.
Luckily for science and nature alike, however, such ‘stock’ sometimes ends up in the hands of scientists, who recognise their peculiarities and readily dig into them to make the next amazing discovery. Such is the case of three researchers from University of New South Wales, Australia, The Australian Museum, Sun Yat-sen University, China, and National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, who have found a new species and even a new genus of freshwater crab, and now have it published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Good thing for the crab too that it was a pet market, not a seafood market. The coelacanth, believed long extinct, was first spotted on a fish market stall.
Knowing about the growing demand for eye-catching freshwater crabs from southern China, the authors took a look at the ornamental fish market to eventually identify an individual with unusually structured male gonopod, which in crustaceans is a swimming appendage modified to serve as a reproductive organ. Having their interest drawn by the peculiar crab, lead author Chao Huang managed to persuade the fish dealer to let them survey the collection site located in northern Guangdong, southern China.
Despite superficial resemblance to an already existing freshwater crab genus, at second glance, the crab turned out to be quite distinct thanks to a unique set of features including the carapace, the gonopod and the relatively long and slender legs. Once the molecular analyses’ results were also in, the authors had enough evidence to assign the freshwater crab as a species and even a genus new to science. More. Paper. (public access) – Hsi-Te Shih, Chao Huang, Si Ying Mao. Yuebeipotamon calciatile, a new genus and new species of freshwater crab from southern China (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura, Potamidae). ZooKeys, 2016; 615: 61 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.615.9964
File under: New genus? We don’t know clearly enough to be so sure of what we do know about our planet. Alternatively, these classification methods are outdated.
See also: DNA: Giraffes are four separate species?
Speciation: Red wolf not “endangered”; a hybrid? This all isn’t working any more. We need a serious discussion of what speciation even is. What a gene even is.
One trillion “species” on Earth?
What does species now mean? Are there really 1000 “species” of cichlid in Lake Malawi?
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