03 May 2011

Tuesday Crustie: Know that I glory in this nose of mine

ResearchBlogging.orgI was pleased that people liked last week’s description of a new squat lobster and its whimsical name, Uroptychus pinocchio. Today, let me introduce its cousin, another  species new to science with an equally choice nom de science:

Like its relatives, Uroptychus naso and Uroptychus pinocchio, this new species lives in the western Pacific. These three are distributed from Japan in the north down to Australia in the south. Something interesting happens as you travel along this way on the various islands: the species of plants and animals that you find seem to change suddenly as you go south. This transition point is now called Wallace’s line, after the naturalist and co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Wallace, who noted this.

But do you get similar effects in ocean species? These squat lobsters do line up in a way that is reminiscent of Wallace’s line: the new species are at the north and south end of the range. Even the better known U. naso, which is more widely distributed, has some populations that appear to be rather isolated from the main lineage.

These squat lobsters are live several hundred metres down. The geologic history of the ocean bottom in creating the shelf zones they inhabit may be as important for the distribution of some of these species as the geological history of the islands are for the distribution of these terrestrial species.

The name of this second new species? Like U. naso and U. pinnochio, this species’ name celebrates its prominent rostrum.
Uroptychus cyrano, after the famed French poet and swordsman.


Poore GCB, Andreakis N. 2011. Morphological, molecular and biogeographic evidence support two new species in the Uroptychus naso complex (Crustacea: Decapoda: Chirostylidae)  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: In press. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.03.032

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