- Colorful freshwater crabs make attractive pets, and are being increasingly traded in South China’s pet fish markets, researchers say.
- At one such market, researchers collected a new species of maroon-brown crab with reddish-purple claws and legs, which belongs to both a new species and a new genus.
- The scientists have named the newly described crab Yuebeipotamon calciatile.
Animal pet markets, filled with assorted species, can sometimes yield species previously unknown to science.
In 2012, for example, researchers found a new species of giant flying squirrel in a bushmeat market of Lao PDR. Then last year, biologists discovered a new species of monitor lizard in a black market in Manila, Philippines.
Now, an ornamental fish market in northern Guangdong, China, has yielded a new species of freshwater crab, which may also be an entirely new genus, researchers write in a new study published in the journal ZooKeys.
Colorful freshwater crabs make attractive pets, and are being increasingly traded in South China’s pet fish market, the authors say. At one such market, researcher Chao Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, and his colleagues, collected a maroon-brown crab with reddish-purple claws and legs from a native ornamental fish dealer and compared it with all known crab species from around the region.
The team discovered that various features of the vibrant crab, such as its hard shell, long legs, and male gonopod (a swimming appendage that serves as a reproductive organ), were unique. Further analysis of the crab’s genetic material confirmed that the species belongs to a new genus and species.
The scientists have named the newly described crab species Yuebeipotamon calciatile. The genus name Yuebeipotamon is partly derived from the Chinese spelling system “Yue Bei”, which means northern Guangdong, the authors write. The species name, “calciatile”, refers to the pools of limestone hill streams where they are found.
• Huang C, Shih H-T, Mao SY (2016) Yuebeipotamon calciatile, a new genus and new species of freshwater crab from southern China (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura, Potamidae). ZooKeys 615: 61-72. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.615.9964