A new species of gecarcinid land crab from French Polynesia

The land crab genus Tuerkayana is represented by only four species, all occurring in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are one of the most ubiquitous species of terrestrial crabs, with some species among the largest in the family. The most widely distributed species is the Rough Land Crab, Tuerkayana rotundum, which is found from Mauritius to Polynesia. A detailed study shows that the population in French Polynesia is morphologically and genetically different from the rest, and is here recognised as a new species, T. latens. The scientific name refers to its identity being hidden until now. The study has been difficult as specimens from throughout its wide range needed to be assembled and examined to understand the morphological and genetic variation in the species, and also included exhaustive detective work to locate old specimens of other species and synonyms in several museums. As there are only 26 land crab species globally, the discovery of a new endemic species in the isolated archipelago of French Polynesia can be regarded as a major biodiversity event.

Read the full article, published by Zoological Studies, here

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