Actaea grimaldii: A Crab of Royal Status

Actaea grimaldii

This heavily ornamented yet vibrantly coloured crab was recently described by Professor Peter Ng, the head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, together with Professor Phillipe Bouchet from the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle.

Actaea grimaldii, as it is now named, is named in honour of the Prince of Monaco, His Serene Highness Albert II, and the red and white colour pattern of the new species also alludes to the colours associated with the armorial of the Grimaldi family.

Colourful as it is, the bright colours that adorn the crab help ‘advertise’ for the crab, not for a partner, but instead, something much more sinister. Belonging to the family Xanthidae, they possess a toxin similar to tetrodotoxin found in pufferfish, the core and only ingredient for the Japanese delicacy ‘Fugu’. These toxins are not only highly toxic, they are also heat-resistant and cannot be destroyed by cooking!

Two specimens courtesy of Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle are now deposited in the museum and are part of the Zoological Reference Collection for research and education.

Here’s a news coverage in France about the description of this new species: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ395AQHEHk [In French]

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