Developing research and higher education on animal biodiversity and wildlife conservation in the Caribbean

New Hermit Crab Species Discovered by a Scuba Diver in the Caribbean

Thu 09 Feb, 2017

Despite its brilliant colors, the small crustacean has stayed unnoticed until now. However, photos taken by a scuba diver in the Caribbean, at the South of Bonaire, intrigued scientists.

The tiny hermit crab, covered of red strikes, does not look like any species known in the region. An expedition is then organized to learn more about the animal. After the meticulous study of several individuals, both in the field and in the laboratory, the discovery is confirmed: it is a new species.



The crustacean, classified in the genus Pylopaguropsis with 19 other species, is only two centimeters long in its totality, and has, in addition to its shell borrowed from a gastropod, the peculiarity of having a claw much larger than the other one, and a body covered with bright red stripes on white background. The presence of moray eels at its sides suggests that the hermit crab could engage in “cleaner” activities, like some fish, although it could also be ecologically associated as a commensal with the eel. Every species deserves a proper name, and scientists wanted to honor the photographer who discovered it, Ellen Muller. However, she preferred to name the animal after her grand-daughter, Molly Muller. We can then welcome Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae on the list of species inhabiting the Caribbean.

Sophie Labaude

Watch the video:
Credits : Rafael Lemaitre & Ellen Muller

Lemaitre, R. 2017. Discovery of a new species of hermit crab of the genus Pylopaguropsis Alcock, 1905 from the Caribbean: “den commensal” or “cleaner”? (Crustacea, Anomura, Paguridae). ZooKeys, 646, 139-158.

Credits: Rafael Lemaitre & Ellen Muller
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