Friday, 14 April 2017

Marine ecologists discover and name the first endemic tree-climbing crab




Date: April 11, 2017
Source: The University of Hong Kong

The Mangrove Ecology and Evolution Lab, led by Dr Stefano Cannicci at the Swire Institute of Marine Sciences (SWIMS) and School of Biological Sciences, the University of Hong Kong (HKU), has recently discovered, described and named a new species of mangrove-climbing micro-crab from Hong Kong, Haberma tingkok, and published the description in ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed and open access international journal dedicated to animal taxonomy.

The new species has been given the scientific name of Haberma tingkok, since all the specimens found at present were spotted at a height of approximately 1.5 to 1.8 metres above chart datum, walking along the branches of the mangroves of the Ting Kok area. The crabs are small, less than a centimetre long, predominantly dark brown, with a squarish carapace, very long legs and orange claws. It represents the second endemic mangrove crab species described in Hong Kong. The previous one, Pseudosesarma patshuni, was described in 1975.

Discovery of a new endemic mangrove crab in over 40 years
This endemic tree-crab was previously unknown to science and it is only known, at present, to have come from Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong. It is Hong Kong's first truly arboreal crab, i.e. living on the branches and canopies of mangroves and breathing air. Its closest relatives, i.e. crabs of the same genus, are only known to be found in the mangroves of Singapore and Indonesian New Guinea, but they are all normal crabs that live in the mud -- they do not climb trees.

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