Nov 25, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

New Mangrove Tree-Climbing Crab Species Found In Hong Kong

Apr 16, 2017 05:11 PM EDT

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A new species of a micro-crab, which sprints up on mangroves in Hong Kong is called Haberma tingkok. The tree-climbing crab has been found and named by the Mangrove Ecology and Evolution Lab, led by Dr. Stefano Cannicci at the Swire Institute of Marine Sciences (SWIMS) and School of Biological Sciences, the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The description of the tree-climbing crab has been published in ZooKeys. This is a global journal that deals with animal taxonomy. Called Haberma tingkok, the crab species were seen at about 1.5 to 1.8 meters above chart datum. They were spotted walking on the branches of the mangroves of the Ting Kok area.

The tree-climbing crabs were pretty tiny, each one less than a centimeter. They were dark brown and covered with square carapaces, long legs, and orange claws. The crabs seemed to represent the second endemic mangrove crab species. The earlier species, called Pseudosesarma patshuni, was described in 1975, according to Science Daily.

While the tree-climbing crab is a new species that seems to be hailing from Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong, it is a mangrove-dweller. It lives on canopies. It is closely related to other crabs found in mangroves of Singapore and Indonesian New Guinea, even though those crabs are not arboreal.

Haberma tingkok, the tree-climbing crab, was first discovered in the Ting Kok mangroves by the end of last summer. One group of HKU undergraduate students who were majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity, as well as research assistants, were undertaking biodiversity samplings. They conducted a multi-institutional project that had been funded by the Hong Kong Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), titled "Assessing the Marine Biodiversity and Ecology of Tolo Harbour and Channel, with particular Reference to Coastal Marine Environments of Ting Kok and Shuen Wan Hoi -- Phase I." It was a project coordinated by the Director of SWIMS, Professor Gray A Williams, and managed by Dr. Kevin Ho King-yan, according to Phys.org.

Most crabs are marine and freshwater species, but some had evolved the strange ability to climb trees, especially mangroves. The tree-climbing crab was found to have extremely elongated legs compared to her flat body, and she was also carrying eggs. This showed that she was totally comfortable being arboreal.

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