Two new porcelain crab species discovery


This April 2018 video says about itself:

Species Corner – Porcelain crab in a symbiotic relationship with a bubble-tip anemone

The Porcelain Crab is common throughout the tropical oceans of the world, and has a flat, round body with two large front claws. They are brown and orange in coloration with bright blue spots. These crabs have a pair of front arms called maxillipeds, which have ends that are feather-like in appearance. They use these appendages to filter the water for any passing food. They are peaceful and interesting invertebrates for the marine aquarium..

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute:

Two new porcelain crab species discovered

October 15, 2019

Summary: Two new symbiotic porcelain crab species have been described. One of them, from the South China Sea of Vietnam, inhabits the compact tube-like shelters built by the polychaete worm with other organisms. The other inhabits the intertidal vermetid snail formations in the Colombian Caribbean.

Two new porcelain crab species have been described in the ZooKeys journal by scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the Institut fur Tierokologie und Spezielle Zoologie der Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen. One of the new species, Polyonyx socialis, was discovered in the South China Sea of Vietnam. The other, Petrolisthes virgilius, has a new identity, after initially being taken for a similar-looking species — Petrolisthes tonsorius — four decades ago in the Colombian Caribbean.

Porcelain crabs belong to a highly diverse family of marine crustaceans, distributed in the shallow waters of oceans worldwide. They also are known as “false crabs”, because they evolved a crab-like form independently of true crabs. A relatively large number of porcelain crab species are symbiotic with other organisms, allowing scientists to tell a story of a long-time relationship between species from distantly related taxa.

“Most porcelain crabs live on the hard substrates of shallow waters like the surface of corals or rocks overgrown by algae, microbes and decaying material,” said STRI research associate Alexandra Hiller, co-author of the papers. “Others live as symbionts of invertebrates like sponges, anemones, sea urchins, polychaete worms and other crustaceans.”

The two recently described species are examples of these symbiotic porcelain crabs. P. socialis derives its name from the Latin word for “social” because it was found living with other organisms — including the larger porcelain crab species, Polyonyx heok — in the compact tube-like shelters built by the polychaete worm Chaetopterus sp. Its broad, flat walking legs and claw-bearing extremities appear to have been adapted for living tightly-attached to the worm tube walls and avoid being perceived as an obstacle for the other organisms.

Although initially mistaken for P. tonsorius in the 1970s, the uncommon colors and atypical habitat of P. virgilius — intertidal vermetid snail formations in the Colombian Caribbean — led the scientists to corroborate through genetic analyses that it was a new species. As a symbiont, P. virgilius has evolved in tight association to its distinctive surroundings: a reef-like microhabitat exposed to wave action and consisting of snail shells cemented to each other and to a hard substrate.

Despite the relatively high number of known symbiotic porcelain crab species, such as P. socialis and P. virgilius, the researchers believe this aspect of their ecology could hinder their long-term survival, particularly in the shallow-water ecosystems where they typically occur. These habitats are often more vulnerable to climate change, ocean acidification and contamination.

“Symbiotic species are thought to be more vulnerable to environmental challenges than free-living organisms,” said Prof. Dr. Bernd Werding, from the Institut fur Tierokologie und Spezielle Zoologie der Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen, and co-author of the studies. “Their fate depends on the fate of their host, which may also be affected by local and global conditions and abrupt changes.”

2 thoughts on “Two new porcelain crab species discovery

  1. Pingback: How mantis shrimp think, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Shrimps’, insects’ brains are similar | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.