A new species of freshwater crab has been identified by biologists at the University of Costa Rica. Named Allacanthos yawi, it was found last year by Luis Hernandez Lara Rolie during exploration of land for a hydropower project. The crab lives in river habitats and is currently believed to only live in Southern Costa Rica.
The new crabs were found on the banks of the Rio Vulcan 1,000 meters above sea level. Mr. Rolie and his associates were surveying the area for a potential hydropower project. About eighty percent of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydropower. Costa Rica is a mountainous country with very high rainfall in some regions and seasonally. One location actually was documented with 359 days of rainfall in a single year.
The dam project located near the crab’s habitat is called El Diquis and some local people are not too happy with its potential environmental impacts.† In addition, several thousand indigenous and non-indigenous people may be displaced by the dam and lake that will be created by it. If the 630 megawatt dam is built it will be the largest hydropower project in Central America.
“To discover a new species of river crab for the country isnít something that happens often,” said Ingo Wehrtmann a researcher at the University of Costa Rica. (Source: Ticotimes.net) He also said such river species are threatened by pollution, and this one in particular is also threatened by proposed expansion of local pineapple farms.
The male is 2.8 centimeters wide and 1.6 centimeters long; the female is slightly smaller. There are now 18 species of documented river crabs in Costa Rica. The crab’s discovery was documented in the journal Zootaxa, in the September 2010 issue.
Image Credit: Luis Hernandez Lara Rolie