Have you ever seen or heard about crabs climbing up trees or living on trees? Well, scientists have discovered a new species of long-legged crabs that live on trees in India. These crabs are substantially different from other congeners in regions of the Western Ghats in Kerala.
The new species is called Kani maranjandu. Why this name? The Kani tribesmen in Kerala helped scientists discover the tree crab, hence it has been named after them.
The characteristics of Kani maranjandu are distinguishing such as hard shell, abdominal structure and reproductive parts in males and long legs. These characteristics are not found in any other species in its genus.
Biju Kumar from the University of Kerala says this discovery is crucial in terms of the conservation of the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot as they can offer ecological indications, reflecting the health of the ecosystem.
"As water-holding hollows in large trees are essential for the survival of this unique species, the discovery stresses the need for conservation of large trees in the degraded forest ecosystems of the Western Ghats," Kumar said.
The species have been reported in the Journal of Crustacean Biology. The discovery was made during a two-year survey of freshwater crab fauna, which started in 2014 in the Western Ghats.
On September 5, 2016, the first specimen, a female, and later a large adult male were caught.
"The discovery also highlights how little we know about the biodiversity in these forests and efforts that must be made to find and study many undoubted new species living there," Kumar said.
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Researchers said the specimens have been deposited with the Zoological Survey of India and in the museum collection of the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala.