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Science And Nature

Giant yellow crustacean within an aquarium actually is new species

By Corryn Wetzel

On the left, a creamy-yellow, oblong, pill bug-like crustacean is displayed with its carapace pointed upwards. On the right, the same crustacean is shown on its back with 14 pairs of legs pointed upwards.

Bathynomus yucatanensis is among nearly two dozen known giant isopod species within the deep sea.

Dr. Ming-Chih Huang, Journal of Natural History

A huge armoured crustacean kept in a Japanese aquarium has been found to become a new species. The discovery increases the nearly two dozen known species of giant isopods large, 14-legged crustaceans that relish the deepest, darkest, coldest waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Once the yellow crustacean was collected from the baited trap off the coast of Mexicos Yucatn Peninsula in 2017, it had been assumed to participate in the Bathonymus giganteus species of isopod and was purchased by the Enoshima Aquarium in Fujisawa, Japan. The imposter avoided discovery until Huang Ming-Chih at the National University of Tainan in Taiwan made a decision to sequence the preserved specimens DNA for a previous project on isopod genetics.

Huang was surprised to see substantial differences between your new isopods genome its full group of genetic instructions and that of B. giganteus.

Initially, I thought it had been [genetic] contamination, therefore i repeated the [DNA] sequencing experiment many times, and the outcomes were exactly the same, says Huang, which suggested he had two different species on his hands.

The new-to-science Bathonymus yucatanensis resembles a scaled-up version of its smaller cousin, the normal woodlouse, or pill bug. The isopod, that is roughly how big is a 2-litre drinks bottle, lives about 600 to 800 metres below sea level in the rarely explored benthic zone.

Upon closer examination, Huang and his collaborators also pinpointed a small number of features that produce B. yucatanensis unique. The specimen measures 26 centimetres from check out tail and is 13 centimetres wide.

In comparison to B. giganteus, B. yucatanensis has more slender body proportions and is shorter altogether length than B. giganteus, the authors write.

Extra-long antennae and a milky-yellow shell also make it stick out from its greyer peers.

Despite an intimidating, prehistoric appearance, B. yucatanensis is harmless to humans and prefers to scavenge on dead whales and fish that choose the seabed.

Because B. yucatanensis was unrecognised for such a long time, Huang suspects other giant isopods could have been misidentified. He says he could be already investigating in case a similar crustacean from the South China Sea is really a new species, suggesting the set of giant isopods will continue steadily to grow.

Journal reference: Journal of Natural History; DOI: 10.1080/00222933.2022.2086835

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