This fluffy crab is giving us life


Bec Crew


Bec Crew

Bec Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.
By Bec Crew 20 June 2022
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Many of us have dug our winter woollies out to cope with the chilly weeks ahead, but I’m going to bet that none of us have a coat as resplendent as this fluffy crab. And who among us can say we have a hat as cool as our fine friend here, who has fashioned a kicky little beret from a sponge.

Meet Lamarckdromia beagle, a newly discovered species of crab found off Western Australia’s south coast.

The species is described alongside several other new discoveries by Western Australian Museum curator of crustacea and worms Dr Andrew Hosie and his team in a new paper published by the journal Zootaxa.

Those other crabs are great and all, but none of them have quite the golden pelt that L. beagle does. Lamarckdromia excavata comes close, but is a little more bedraggled, as you can see here:

Sponge crab (Lamarckdromia excavata)
Sponge crab (Lamarckdromia excavata). Photo credit: Colin McLay / WA Museum

It almost looks embarrassed in that second photo.

Crabs from the genus Lamarckdromia are known as sponge crabs, and are typically found in shallow waters down to a few hundred metres, especially around wharfs and other places where sea sponges accumulate.

Sea sponges are important to the crabs – they carry them on their heads to protect themselves from predators such as octopuses and fish. The sponges can be bad to eat, so could act as a deterrent to anything that tries to take a bite out of our crab friend.

“The crabs trim the sponge to shape, let it grow to shape of their body and use them as a hat or protective blanket keep them protected from predators such as octopus and fish,” Dr Hosie told Peter Barr and John Dobson at ABC News.

You can see here the tiny (and pristine!) claws that L. beagle has to cut the sponge down to size with:

Related: The crabs that wear sea sponges like a hat