The crustaceans of this species use the sponge as a camouflage or protective blanket to keep them protected from predators such as octopuses and fish.
The new species of ‘sponge crab’ was found on the south coast of Western Australia. In addition to its stuffed appearance, the crab wears a small protective hat made of sea sponge, according to the local portal ABC.
The furry crustacean has been named Lamarckdromia beagle in honor of the famous brig HMS Beagle in which Charles Darwin sailed while conducting his famous research.
The new species belongs to the Dromiidae family, commonly known as ‘sponge crabs’ for using sea sponges and sea squirts as a protective camouflage.
“They have an unusual behavior of carrying a piece of living sponge”, explained the curator of crustaceans and worms of the Museum of Western Australia, Dr. Andrew Hosie.
“The crabs cut the sponge […], let it grow to give it the shape of their body, and use it as a hat or protective blanket to keep them safe from predators such as octopuses and fish”, he explained.
The description of Lamarckdromia beagle appears, along with 30 other species of sponge crab known from Western Australian waters, in an article published in the scientific journal Zootaxa.