new species

A Crabby Acquisition

Here at the museum, most of our specimens are collected from the research field, received through donations from other museums, or via reports of dead animals by the public.

In some instances, we also collect specimens through more ‘conventional’ means — the market! In fact, we often make it a point to visit local markets in our various field sites across Southeast Asia, as you never know what interesting critter will pop up. After all, the Sulawesi Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis), was discovered by Dr. Mark Erdmann in a Manado fish market while on his honeymoon!

Recently, Prof Peter Ng, LKCNHM head, collected an interesting specimen through similar means. He was having dinner at Turf City one evening when he came across an interesting live crab in one of the aquariums, and promptly bought the crab from the seafood joint. Saved from a certain fate of ending up on a dinner plate, the specimen was instead destined for the collection shelves at the museum.

Lithodes aequispinus-S Korea-13May2016-148.4mmCW-comp2

Top, bottom and close up views of the Golden King Crab. Photo by Tan Heok Hui.

This crab was later identified as a Golden King Crab (Lithodes aequispinus). According to Prof Ng, adults of this species can be as large, if not larger than their more famous counterparts, the Alaskan King Crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus).

Even though it looks crab-like, it is not a ‘true’ crab but actually related to hermit crabs. If you are confused, count the number of legs seen in this crab, and compare it with the mangrove mud crab, Scylla spp.  🙂

The crab’s origins were even more of a surprise as it was said to be from Korea, and if so, may be the first record of the species there.

Golden king crabs are not only found in East Asian waters which includes countries like South Korea, but can also be found in the Northern Pacific Ocean ranging from British Columbia in Canada all the way to Japan.

The crab is now awaiting final preparations at our laboratory before it is added to our wet collections along with other crustacean specimens. It will be invaluable as a future research specimen for comparative work and DNA studies.

The next time you visit a market, keep your eyes peeled out for interesting and unusual animals — they may be right under your nose!

Something special in the mail: scaly footed iron armoured snails (Crysomallon squamiferum)

A very special snail mail arrived recently!

ZRC MOL 5793 Chrysomellon squamiferum lkcnhm newsOur mollusc curator, Tan Siong Kiat, alerted us of a pair of scaly footed iron armoured snails (Crysomallon squamiferum) sent to us from the RRS James Cook Expedition of the Indian Ocean collected by JT Copley. They were found some 2,700 m deep!

These snail have a shell coated with iron sulfide and also have iron sulfide coated petals protecting their soft foot. Only a peek beneath the foot reveals their organic nature.

Scientist studying them found that they probably do not need to eat. Instead, they probably rely on symbiotic bacteria found in their guts for food production. Amazing!

The snails have been catalogued and are now part of the Zoological Reference Collection for research and education.

Indopinnixa shellorum, A new species of crab described from Singapore!

A new crab species described from Singapore by our resident crab taxonomist, Professor Peter Ng (Head, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum)!

Figure 1 Indopinnixa (FB)

Described as Indopinnixa shellorum, they live in close association with sipunculan worms. This crab is also tiny, measuring only 4 mm across! It is no wonder why they have evaded detection for years, even with frequent and intensive biological surveys.

This species is named after the employees of Shell Singapore Private Limited for their strong support for many of our local science and biodiversity programs such as the Raffles Museum Visiting Scientist Program. They also contributed greatly towards the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey Project, organised by National Parks Board (Singapore) to document the marine plants and animals on the island.

Indopinnixa shellorum was one of the new species collected during the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey Project.

The CEO of Shell Mr Ben van Beurden presented a model of this crab to PM Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister of Singapore) as a memento to PM Lee while receiving the Honorary Partner in Progress Award from EDB Singapore. Shell also commemorated the occasion with Indopinnixa shellorum ties!

 indopinnixa shellorum tie