Rare Three-Colored Crab Rediscovered in West Kalimantan, Missing Since 1920

Rare Three-Colored Crab Rediscovered in West Kalimantan, Missing Since 1920

A team from the National University of Singapore (NUS), in collaboration with researchers from the Research Center for Biosystematics and Evolution under the auspices of Indonesia's National Agency for Research and Innovation (BRIN), led by Daisy Wowor, has discovered a three-colored crab. The crab, scientifically known as Lepidothelphusa menneri, was found in Gunung Kelam, West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The three-colored crab is a new species within the Lepidothelphusa crab family. The discovery was published in the second issue of volume 5397 of the journal Zootaxa on January 4, 2024.

According to scientific records, an Italian zoologist named Giuseppe Colosi discovered a crab belonging to the Lepidothelphusa family in 1920 in Sarawak, Malaysia. This rare crab is very small, measuring about 10 mm x 8.8 mm. Its dorsal skin is smooth to the touch and has a contrasting three-color pattern, creating a very attractive color combination.

Most of its body has three distinct colors. The front, including the head and eyes, is yellow or orange. The middle part of its body is dark brown or purplish black, while the rear part is pale or light blue.

Daisy explains that this crab also has another unique feature: its right claw is smaller than the left. This is not a result of the claw having been previously severed but is a feature of its morphology.

She also mentions that this small crab often hides among fallen leaves and plant roots on the rocky and gravelly riverbanks. Therefore, researchers must watch carefully to locate them.

This genus includes six different species, namely Lepidothelphusa (L.) cognettii, L. flavochela, L. limau, L. loi, L. padawan, and L. sangon. All these species originate from the western region of Sarawak, East Malaysia.

Etymologically, the name L. menneri is derived from Jochen K. Menner. He was the person who informed Daisy and Peter about the existence of this species in Kalimantan and subsequently facilitated the collection of specimens with the people of Sintang. According to Daisy, determining the conservation status of L. menneri remains a challenge as its range is not well defined.

Currently, local collectors are actively collecting L. menneri for sale in Singapore, China and Europe. Due to the small size of most Lepidothelphusa species and their limited egg-laying capacity of about 21 eggs, the potential exploitation of this species as pets could pose a threat. It is therefore important to consider listing this species as vulnerable.

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