Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! Hermit Crab!

Happy Halloween!

And Happy Halloween Crabday!
And Happy Halloween Hermit Crab Crabday!!!

Halloween Hermit Crab
Ciliopagurus strigatus

"Trick or Me! (Because I'm obviously a treat.)"

OK, I'll calm down. You see, Halloween is my favorite holiday by far. I love the costumes, the decorations, the spooky movies, the pumpkin-and-chocolate everything. So you can imagine how thrilling it was for me to find a Halloween crab! And a beautiful crab to boot!

"Even my tush is cute!"

We've already had a Crabday for hermit crabs in general, and a Crabday for the coconut crab (a shell-less hermit crab), but what makes the Halloween hermit crab special (aside from its name) are their orange and black legs. Those bold legs also differentiate the Halloween hermit crab from the other 3 species of hermits within the "Ciliopagurus strigatus complex".

claw coloration in the complex:
(A) Ciliopagurus strigatus, (B) C. tricolor,
(C) C. vakovako, and (D) galzini

What is a "Ciliopagurus strigatus complex?" It is a grouping of 4 species within the genus Ciliopagurus that are all very similar with the exception of their coloration. Normally, they might even be considered different variations of the same species, but they do, in fact, have enough genetic variation from one another to justify the different species names. In the aquarium world, they're still all commonly called Halloween hermit crabs though. Overall, the take away message that I got from this is, "Wow! The Halloween hermit crab has some purdy cousins!"

"Don't I know it!" - Halloween hermit crab

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween (and a relatively dry one for our East Coast readers)!

Complex reading:
Poupin, J., and M. C. Malay. 2009. Identification of a Ciliopagurus strigatus (Herbst, 1804) species-complex, with description of a new species from French Polynesia (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura, Diogenidae). Zoosystema 31: 209 - 232.

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