By the looks of it, this new species of crab would bring nightmares to those who are uncomfortable (hmm, understatement?) seeing an eight-legged arachnid
crawl in unexpected places (i.e. your bed).
Found in Western Ghats of south India, researchers of the study
named the crab Kani maranjandu
after the tribal community that noticed them (Kani) and their local slang for tree crab (maranjandu).
PHOTOGRAPH BY APPUKUTTANNAIR BIJU KUMAR
As large as the palm of a human, this deep bluish black creature leaves in the tree-hole above the ground, eating worms and seeds. While being a forest-dweller may sound odd for a crab, their physique is also strikingly different. They are "long-legged", having slender, curved, and sharp ends. This is why they're good tree climbers as the unusual legs give them a good grip. The researchers even noticed their distinct hard outer shell or carapace that is broad, swollen, and convex.
Lead author Biju Kumar of the University of Kerala pointed out the importance of the their habitat: the large trees and forest ecosystem. While it differs from most crabs, they still live on rainwater (instead of the usual seawater) in tree hollows that when these places dry up, they move to another tree. Their unique shell specifically helps them keep water in their gill chambers.
“This lifestyle of tree living indicates that, since they cannot disperse widely through the sea, their range tends to be limited to a very narrow area,” says Tohru Naruse
, an expert on crab biodiversity at Japan’s University of the Ryukyus, who is not involved in the study. “It also suggests that the tree-climbing behavior and morphology of Kani maranjandu,
and possibly other related, undiscovered species, has evolved where they are distributed,” he adds.
So we now have black crabs that really look like spiders
; what's next? I just can't imagine seeing these while walking in the forest, trying to soothe myself from the loud city. I think it would do me the opposite then.