26 November 2008

Raffles Museum photos of Vanuatu crabs

These crabs from Vanuatu were featured in a National Geographic News article about the Santo 2006 biodiversity expedition. Scientists from all over the world collected some 10,000 different species from the remote South Pacific island of Espiritu Santo. About 600 of these were crab species.
This two-horn box crab is able to crack and peel open snails' shells using a sharp "tooth" on its right claw to cut open shells and long, slender "fingers" on the left claw to yank out its prey.

The distinctive hexagonal shell, long legs, and claws of this delicate-looking feather star crab help it blend in with its host, the crinoid or feather star. The crab dwells in the center of the feather star, where it grabs food particles from its filter-feeding host's arms.This crab is commonly encountered on our shores too and we fondly call it the Teddy bear crab. According to the National Geographic: "The furry-looking, slow-moving common hairy crab traps sediment in its long, mop-like hairs, allowing the creature to blend in with its environment."

More photos by the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore the island's astonishing diversity of crabs are on the National Geographic website.

More about the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and here's what you can see at the public gallery, from this recent visit to the museum.

And there's MORE photos about the marine creatures discovered on the Santo 2006 biodiversity expedition is this other National Geographic article.
Photograph by Annelise Fleddum, University of Oslo

Scientists sampled some 4,000 different mollusk species in Espiritu Santo. Mollusk expert Philippe Bouchet speculates that as many as 1,000 of these could be new species.

Among the finds: this sundial snail, already known to science and so named for the swirling pattern on its shell.

In a career spanning dozens of deep-sea expeditions in three oceans, Bouchet has already described more than 400 new mollusk species.
Photograph by Yasunori Kano, University of Kumamoto

Pink limpet snails, shown here from underneath, live under stones embedded in mud and survive with poor water circulation and low oxygen levels.

Their color comes from hemoglobin in their blood, a feature unique to this kind of snail. Scientists around the world are still sifting through all their Santo 2006 expedition discoveries. It may take a decade to identify and confirm everything they've found. This tiny corner of the world could yield up to 2,000 new species.

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