Unique 'fluffy' crab discovered in Western Australia. It wears a living sponge as a hat - see pic

Australia Updated: Jun 21, 2022, 12:35 AM(IST)

Representative image. Photograph:( Others )

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The hairy crustacean has been named in honour of the HMS Beagle, a ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world while he was conducting his research 

Lamarckdromia beagle, a new species of crab has been discovered off Western Australia's south coast. What makes this particular crab interesting is it wears a little protective hat made of a living sea sponge. 

The crab belongs to Dromiidae family. Reports have mentioned that the Crustaceans in the family use sea sponges and ascidians for protection. Mostly, they wear them like hats after trimming the creatures using their claws. 

The hairy crustacean has been named in honour of the HMS Beagle, a ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world while he was conducting his research. 

Dr Andrew Hosie, who is the Western Australian Museum curator of crustacea and worms said that the hind legs of sponge crabs were specially adapted for holding their protective hats. 

Dr Hosie told ABC: "They have an unusual behaviour of carrying around a piece of living sponge. The crabs trim the sponge to shape, let it grow to shape of their body and use them as a hat or protective blanket keep them protected from predators such as octopus and fish." 

As per reports, the sponges help Dromiidae crabs camouflage from predators, which is very similar to the hermit crabs' use of shells for protection. 

"The sponge or the ascidian that these things carry should offer it all the camouflage it needs. I expect that having the extra fluffy legs means that the outline is, even more, obscured," Dr Hosie said. 

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He added, "Some of the compounds that these sponges are producing are very noxious. There's not a lot of active predators that would be interested in munching through a sponge just to get to a crab." 

As per a report by Guardian, a family living in Denmark, Western Australia found a Lamarckdromia beagle specimen. The crab was washed up on the beach. The family sent it to the Western Australian Museum for identification. 

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