A new species of crab has been described after being found washed up on a beach in Australia. Named Lamarckdromia beagle, the furry critter was found by a family who gave it to the Western Australian Museum for identification. Sponge crabs aren’t themselves new – there are 40 genera of sponge crab alone, living in tropical and temperate oceans, but on closer inspection of this washed-up Dromiid it, and previously collected museum specimens were found to be a new and separate species.
Sponge crabs use live sponges for both camouflage and defense. Once a suitable sponge is found the crab trims it to better fit its carapace before holding it on permanently with its back legs. The sponge type and color can vary massively with the crab species and locality. Dromia personata will even use Parazoanthus polyp colonies, while others may use sea squirts. In the case of sponges though, they don’t attach to the crab’s shell but their toxicity is also thought to help the crabs avoid predation.
As you probably guessed Lamarckdromia beagle has been assigned its species name in recognition of Charles Darwin’s ship HMS Beagle, which he traveled on in the 1830s while gathering data that led to his theory of evolution. L.beagle becomes the third species in the Lamarckdromia genus but not the only specimen. When going back through their sponge crab specimen collection the Museum found another one that was collected in 1925, inspected it, and reclassified it.
Dr. Andrew Hosie is the curator of crustacea and worms at the Western Australian Museum. Colin McLay is the marine biologist associated with Canterbury University in New Zealand, who described it.