The story behind this new species of Calappa, described by Professor Peter Ng and Dr Joelle Lai and published this week in Zootaxa is amusing. It first come to the attention of Prof. Ng more than 10 years ago, when he was shown a picture of an unusual box crab collected from the deep waters of Guam. Right away, he knew it was a new species and a remarkable one at that for it was unusually wide and had a vividly hued carapace.
What followed was more than 10 years of hide and seek, for the specimen(s) refused to be found, even though it was known to have been deposited in the Smithsonian Museum at Washington D.C, and there were many attempts to locate it. It was serendipitously recovered when Drs Ng and Lai visited the Smithsonian Museum in January 2011 for a xanthid workshop and Dr Lai found the jar of two specimens sitting on a shelf while examining the Calappa collection housed in the Smithsonian Museum Support Centre . Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of Prof. Ng beaming from ear to ear and punching the air with joy as he finally found these specimens after 12 years of searching, or we would put it up on the blog.
The new species is named Calappa karenae, after Miss Karen Reed, the museum specialist at the Smithsonian who greatly facilitated our stay at USNM and helped us over the years with our incessant requests to check the collection for this elusive species. Another new critter with a name, and thousands more to go!
Abstract: A new deep-water species of box crab, Calappa karenae sp. nov. (Brachyura: Calappidae) is described from Guam. The new species differs from its congeners by its distinctive colouration and conspicuously wide carapace. It is one of the largest Calappa species known from the Indo-West Pacific.