World, meet Gramastacus lacus. Gramastacus lacus, world.
This is an interesting new burrowing crayfish species. For one, it’s only the second in its genus. Second, it has an unusual way of walking on land. (I started my scientific career doing locomotion, so this fascinates me.)
There is a unique forward movement via a series of rhythmic plunges. The crayfish raises the cephalothorax and both claws up with its legs and then moves forward overbalancing and plunges down and forward then repeats the movement. This up and forward movement is unusual, but the crayfish easily moves up, forward and down without “missing a beat”.
I would love to see a video of this!I emailed the author, Robert McCormack, and he doesn’t have any yet. He tells me he’s put recording it, and putting it up on YouTube, onto his research agenda.
Not surprisingly, the headlines are focusing on things that don’t seem so notable. They are not really that small. The technical paper calls them “robust and strong” compared to the other species in their genus. The description on NBC news referring the “cannibal” nature of the crayfish is weird, given that pretty much every crayfish will make a meal out of another if the opportunity arises.
Hat tip to David Shiffman.
McCormack R. 2014. The eastern swamp crayfish Gramastacus lacus sp. n. (Decapoda, Parastacidae) a new species of freshwater crayfish from coastal New South Wales, Australia. ZooKeys 398:53-67. http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.398.7544