A species of purple crab has been discovered on the island of Palawan in the Phillipines. Lead researcher Hendrik Freitag said the bright colors might be a random variation or could be a social advantage, “The particular violet coloration might just have evolved by chance, and must not necessarily have a very specific function or reason aside from being a general visual signal for recognition.” (Source: National Geographic) It was named Insulamon palawanense.
The new species is very tiny – just one to two inches wide – so bright colors indeed would probably be an advantage for recognition by other crabs of the same species in habitat where so many other objects are much larger.
Miniaturization is an evolutionary effect which allows some species to be so small they are not easily noticeable and therefore are less likely to become a meal for a predator.
The tiny creatures also can hide in spaces unavailable to their larger counterparts and require less food. They can also survive in less habitat. Even so, the tiny purple crab is endemic, meaning it lives nowhere else, and mining projects on Palawan are disrupting natural areas.
“The smaller the remaining natural habitat the greater is the risk to endemic fauna and flora. Even minor environmental changes can lead to extinctions. It is all the more important to do research in this region and show that the biodiversity of these islands is unique and worth protecting,” said Freitag. (Source: IBTimes) About half the species on Palawan are endemic.
Fortunately there are researchers on the island and they are documenting the local ecology. The long slender island of Palawan is located just north of Malaysia.
Image Credit: Henrik Freitag