Five new blanket-hermit crab species described 130 years later from the Pacific

phys.org | 4/23/2018 | Staff
joseph76 (Posted by) Level 3
At the turn of the twentieth century, two independent marine scientists—JR Henderson in 1888, and A Alcock in 1899, described two unusual blanket-hermit crabs from the Indo-West Pacific.

Unlike other hermit crabs, these extraordinary crustaceans do not search for empty shells to settle in for protection. Instead, they have developed a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones to cover their soft bellies. To do this, the crabs use highly specialized chelipeds to pull back and forth the anemone's tissue to cover their soft bodies and heads whenever necessary—much like hiding under a blanket.

Specimens - HMS - Challenger - Expedition - Hermit

Among the numerous specimens collected during the famous HMS Challenger Expedition in 1874, there were two hermit crab specimens obtained from the Philippines. They amazed Henderson with their unusual physical characters, including an abdomen bent on itself rather than spirally curved, and the lack of any trace of either a shell or other kind of protective structure for their body.

As a result, in 1888, JR Henderson established a brand new genus and new species for it as Paguropsis typicus. The ending of the species name was subsequently grammatically corrected to Paguropsis typica.

Decade - Unaware - Discovery - A - Alcock

A decade later, unaware of the previous discovery, A Alcock stumbled upon hundreds of hermit crab specimens off southern India, which exhibited quite spectacular behaviour. Having observed their symbiotic relations with sea anemones, the researcher also formally described in 1899 a new species and a new genus for his specimens.

However, shortly thereafter and upon learning of JR Henderson's earlier work, A Alcock concluded that his hermit crab specimens and those of JR Henderson must be one and the same species, so the two scientific names were officially synonymized in 1901 in a publication with his colleague AF McArdle, with JR Henderson's name taking precedence as required by the principle of priority set forth in the International Code of Zoological...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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