Four new species of King crab has been discovered in the Smithsonian Collections of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Lithodes galapagensis New species of King Crab found in museum storage
Lithodes galapagensis – Picture by NOCS

The four species have been formally described by Sally Hall, a PhD student at the University of Southampton* who discovered the species in the museum. All four hail from the deep sea but from very different parts of the globe. Paralomis nivosa is native to Philippine waters, Paralomis makarovi comes from the cold Bering Sea, Paralomis alcockiana lives off the coast of South Carolina, USA, and Lithodes galapagensis is the only king crab ever recorded from the Galapagos archipelago.

“King crabs include some of the largest crustaceans currently inhabiting Earth and are fished by humans, particularly from the shallower waters of the polar regions”, Hall explained. “The new discoveries increase the total number of king crab species known to 113.”

Hall believes that even more species of King crab will be found in the future.
“The oceans off eastern Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean are all particularly poorly sampled,” she said. “We need to know which king crab species live where before we can fully understand their ecology and evolutionary success.”

* The University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES) at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS)