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Large Crab Species Discovered In Costa Rica

June 21, 2011

Biologists from Costa Rica and the United States announced the discovery of a new species of land crab on the Pacific Ocean island of Cocos Island, AFP is reporting.

Named Johngarthia cocoensis, the distinguishing characteristic of it is its large size – a male can measure 15.7 inches with their front legs extended. Females measure smaller. The crabs live in holes dug into the soil and subsist primarily grasses and seeds.

The discovery of this species is credited to Robert Perger and Rita Vargas from the University of Costa Rica and Adam Wall from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

Perger told a local newspaper that J. cocensis resembles the J. malpilensis crab, which lives on nearby islands. “The similarity with other species in the western Pacific indicates that larvae (which develop in the sea) may have crossed to Cocos Island by sea currents,” adapting to its habitat to develop into a new species he said.

Cocos Island is located off the coast of Colombia but within the territorial waters of Costa Rica and is the only island in the Western Pacific that has a humid tropical forest climate and features a wide variety of animal species.

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