New tree-living crab species found in Kerala

Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura. They live in all the world’s oceans, in fresh water, and on land, are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton and have a single pair of claws. Many other animals with similar names – such as hermit crabs, king crabs, porcelain crabs, horseshoe crabs, and crab lice – are not true crabs.

Why in news?

Scientists have discovered a new species of long legged, tree-dwelling crabs in Western Ghats of Kerala.

The new species- Kani maranjandu

  • The new species named Kani maranjandu after the Kani tribe in Kerala, are substantially different from other congeners.
  • The characteristic traits of the crab include the structure of its hard upper shell, its male abdominal structure and reproductive parts and diagnostic elongated walking legs, which no other genus has.
  • This is the first report of its kind to offer a record of an arboreal crab — a species that lives in trees.
  • The survey of the freshwater crab fauna started in 2014 in the Westerns Ghats in Kerala. People from the Kani tribe reported sightings of a ‘long legged’ tree crabs in the area.
  • After a year, researchers were finally able to capture a female specimen and later a large adult male.
  • Water holding hollows in large trees are essential for the survival of this unique species, the discovery also stresses the need for conservation of large trees in the degraded forest ecosystems of the Western Ghats.
  • The finding was published in The Journal of Crustacean Biology.
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