New squat lobster genus discovered
Sunday 22 November 2009:
A new genus of squat lobster has been found off the southern coast of Heron Island.
The tiny creature, barely half a centimetre long, was collected from one of the Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures(ARMS).
The ARMS were installed during last year's Heron Island expedition and retrieved last week.
Kareen Schnabel, the Collection Manager at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Invertebrate Collection, made the exciting discovery when she was able to identify the family the squat lobster belonged to but not the genus.
She will now describe and name the new genus.
"I've named species before but I've never named a genus," she said.
Kareen said the shape of the creature's rostrum, the patterns she observed on the carapace and its claws were distinctly different from other genera in this group.
She said squat lobster research had previously focused on deep-water environments greater than 100m and there was a lack of collections and knowledge of shallow water fauna.
"Shallow water fauna hasn't been very well described in the South-West Pacific, and this is something I would like to concentrate on in the future," she said.
Squat lobsters are a diverse group of crustaceans commonly found in the deep sea, with a total of about 900 species worldwide.