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Scientists in Australia recently discovered a strange “fluffy” crab that wears sea sponges as hats, the Guardian reported.
Named after the HMS Beagle ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world, the Lamarckdromia beagle was initially found by a family off the coast of Western Australia.
A research team closely inspected the crustacean and compared it to other species in Western Australia Museum’s collection. They determined that L. beagle was a completely new species that is part of the Dromiidae family, commonly known as sponge crabs.
The team explained that Dromiidae uses sea sponges and ascidians – animals including sea squirts – for protection. The crabs use their claws to trim the sea creatures and wear them as hats.
“The sponge or ascidian just keeps growing and will mold to the shape of the crab’s back,” said co-author Andrew Hosie. “It will never attach … it forms a nice cap that fits quite snugly to the top of the crab.”
The special cap camouflages the crabs and can also produce “very noxious” chemicals to deter predators.
In the case of the L. beagle, researchers noted that the creature already had some hair – fluff – on its legs that provides extra camouflage.
However, they couldn’t determine why the crabs were fluffy and the purpose of the follicles.
The fluffy crab, along with other new species, was reported in a study published in the journal Zootaxa, which identified 31 species of sponge crab known to be found in Western Australian seas. Check out this creature here.