A new species of freshwater crab have been discovered in Barangay Seloton, in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The discovery is a fruit of collaborative work; thanks to Filipino scientists Jose C. E. Mendoza and Emerson Y. Sy.
Mendoza said in an interview with GMA News that his co-author purchased the crab from a vendor who was selling freshwater fish and crabs for food.
“Ganyan talaga ang mga field biologist. Vendors and markets, especially in remote or understudied areas, are one of the first places we look when we survey the biodiversity of those areas. Kumbaga how do people interact with or utilize this biodiversity?” he said.
Mendoza works as a lecturer at the National University of Singapore, while Sy is based in the Philippine Center for Terrestrial and Aquatic Research.
The details of their accidental discovery will be published in the Michael Türkay Memorial’s Issue of the journal “Crustaceana.”
Mendoza described Türkay as a “carcinologist” at a Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany and the new species — Sundathelphusa miguelito — is named after Michael Türkay.
Mendoza said that the species is very likely to be endemic to Mindanao, and worthy of conservation and further study. He furthers that discovering and giving a scientific name to the crab is only one of the first steps.
According to Mendoza, Sundathelphusa miguelito differs from other species because its body is relatively more rounded, and the galamay [tentacles] seem shorter. Also, the shape of the male’s genitalia is different compared to others.
Now the question is, can the newly discovered species be eaten?
Mendoza and SY noted that the crabs are edible. But people should be extra careful because the crabs are known vectors of lung flukes, which cause paragonimiasis in humans who eat them raw, Mendoza explained.