Australians discover furry new crab that wears a sea sponge as a hat

Researchers at the Western Australia Museum have discovered a strange new crab, which they've named for Charles Darwin's ship. The Lamarckdromia beagle is one of just three known sponge crabs of the Dromiidae family, which use their hind legs to attach sea sponges onto their heads. From The Guardian:

"The sponge or ascidian just keeps growing and will mould to the shape of the crab's back," he said. "It will never attach … it forms a nice cap that fits quite snugly to the top of the crab."

Similar to how hermit crabs use shells for protection, the sponges help Dromiidae crabs to camouflage from predators such as octopuses and other crabs.

The sponges can be bigger than the crab itself, and also provide a chemical deterrent. "Some of the compounds that these sponges are producing are very noxious," Hosie said. "There's not a lot of active predators that would be interested in munching through a sponge just to get to a crab."

The fluffy hair is believed to help with the camouflage as well; like yeti crabs, the fur could help with cultivating other tasty bacteria as well.

'Fluffy' crab that wears a sponge as a hat discovered in Western Australia [Donna Lu / The Guardian]

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