Hairs perform a variety of functions in the animal realm, but experts are baffled as to what one crab is doing with such an excessive amount of fluff. The newly discovered sponge crab species was discovered off the coast of Western Australia, and as if its enormous floor wasn’t enough texture, it also wears a protective headgear made of living marine sponge. The hairy crustacean was called after the HMS Beagle, the ship on which Charles Darwin conducted his investigation. Many species of sponge crab may be found in Australia, but the name of this one was inspired by a ship that traveled to Albany in 1836, which is one of the few areas where the Lamarckdromia beagle can be found.
Fine hairs connected to sponge crabs’ exoskeletons are hooked at the end and can be used to attach items such as a sea sponge fascinator. And it appears that L. beagle has little trouble attaching live sponges to its beagle-colored body, thanks to its prized mane. Dr. Andrew Hosie, curator of crustacea and worms at the Western Australian Museum, told ABC, “They have an odd behavior of carrying around a piece of live sponge.”
“The crabs mold the sponge, let it grow into the shape of their body, and utilize it as a cap or protective blanket to keep predators like octopus and fish at bay.” The odd method of camouflage is extensively used among the dromiidae, a crab family that includes sponge crabs and is related to hermit crabs, another of the ocean’s most clever crustaceans.
What’s the story with all that fluff? We’re not sure, to be honest. “Every member of this group of crabs is hairy to some degree,” Hosie added, “but this one is crazy.” “We are unable to provide a definite answer as to why… We think it’s to help it hide its legs from predators even more.” Camouflage, but in a fashionable way.
The Dromiidae of Western Australia is summarized using specimens from the Western Australian Museum’s collection as well as some supplementary material from the Australian Museum in Sydney. A new species, Alainodromia dambimangari sp. nov., of the genus Alainodromia McLay 1998, has been discovered in Camden Sound, Australia. According to new findings, Alainodromia species are most likely shell carriers with direct development. A new genus, Baccadromia gen. nov., is created for Dromia (Cryptodromia) bullifera Alcock, 1900, and five Cryptodromia species are described from Western Australia. The genus Lamarckdromia Guinot & Tavares, 2003 has been updated, and three new species have been added: L. beagle sp. nov., L. excavata (Stimpson, 1858), and L. globose (Lamarck, 1818).
Baccadromia bullifera (Alcock, 1900), Cryptodromia amboinensis (De Man, 1888), Cryptodromia pileifera Alcock, 1901, Epigodromia rotunda McLay, 1993, and Foredromia rostrata McLay, 2002 are all new to Australia. Cryptodromia hilgendorfi De Man, 1888, Epigodromia areolata (Ihle, 1913), and Lewindromia unidentata (Rüppell, 1830) are all new records for Western Australia. There are presently 31 species of dromiid crabs on the Western Australian coast, with five of them being indigenous to the state. There are more than 40 Dromiidae species in Australia, with roughly 40% of them being indigenous.