Shock and claw: Three new crab species discovered in waters off Spain’s Andalucia

RESEARCHERS from the Spanish National Research Council have discovered two new species of hermit crab and one new species of spider crab in Andalucian waters.

It follows a study on the crab populations of the Andalucian coast carried out by researcher Enrique González who compared samples to a collection of spider crabs found in Wales.

Crab species often cannot be identified purely by eyesight and molecular analysis is required to determine a species.

Crab Snip Wiki 1
The spider crab is a species of migratory crab found in the north-east Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.
Photo: Wikipedia

In this case, the crabs found in Andalucian waters were thought to be the same as a type of Spider crab native to the UK.

However, further investigation in fact revealed that they were entirely new species. 

González said: “In both studies, the role of molecular techniques has been fundamental in confirming that these were new species, since morphology alone does not always allow us to reach these conclusions with certainty.”

The new species has been named Inachus gaditanus.

Meanwhile the discovery of two new hermit crabs, Diogenes erythromanus and Diogenes arguinensis was made by Bruno Almon, from the Oceanographic Centre of Vigo, José Antonio Cuesta, from the Institute of Marine Sciences of Andalusia, and Enrique García-Raso, professor at the University of Malaga.

“Everything suggests that they are African species that have their northern distribution limit in the waters of the Iberian Peninsula,” González-Ortegón said.

In the case of the spider crab, many have now been found on the La Caleta beach in Cadiz.

Not content with three new species, researchers are continuing their search.

“There are still several more new species to be described, also from Andalusian waters and from other parts of the Iberian Peninsula, but it is a slow process, until all the data are gathered to confirm that we are dealing with a new species,” Cuesta said.

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