Cryptic Species – Crab or Fish?
These photos claim a cryptic species was found in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The story that has been circulated is that they were found at construction site in a deep foundation ditch. It’s believed that while digging they hit a underground river and because of this the ditch remained full of water. A few months later a couple of workers spotted some movement in the water, they threw some crumbs of their lunch into trench which caused a frenzy of movement in the water. They were puzzled about what this might possibly be ? It was then decided to try to catch whatever was causing this stir, when they did a panic ensued after it tried to bite them. Because of this they killed it with a tool. The pictures here show the remains of it. They claimed it was around 5 feet length. Nobody had any idea of what thing might be.
It’s not a Horseshoe Crab
So I decided to do some digging to see if I might be able to discover what this creäture might be. At first glance it reminded me of a horseshoe crab, the trouble is that they don’t have segmented tails. The underside looks somewhat similar except that number of legs are different. The horseshoe crab has a single pair of eyes were the second has 2 internal compound eyes plus the larval nauplius eye (Triops means ‘three eyes’). So I think a horseshoe crab can be eliminated.
Could it be a “Sea Monkey” or Billabong Bug?
According to the story it’s claimed that the creäture found was 5′-0″ in length. This might actually be possible since some horseshoe crabs can reach extraordinary sizes themselves. They generally reach up to 19″ in length. Read more about the horseshoe crab here. The other thing that is quite curious is that they were found in a good-sized pond. It was with this information that the cryptic species started to reveal itself. It’s fairly likely what they found was a Notostraca, or shield, tadpole shrimp or better known by it’s genus name “Triops”. These are the very same things as what used to be sold in the backs of comic books. They were know as Sea monkeys in the States and ‘billabong bugs’ in Australia.
Australian Shield Shrimp
The problem with identifying it as a Australian shield shrimp is coloration, but this is one of the two species found in Australia. The other problem is this species only reaches up to 35 mm. What they do share in common is that they are found in ponds. The species is widely distributed in Europe through to Russia, and from the Middle East to India. So if I was to venture to guess which species this might be I’d say it’s a Triops granarius but it could be a completely unknown species as well. One very intriguing thing found about these amazing creatures is that when their ponds dry up they can survive for extremely long periods of time before reappearing. So there can be some speculation that if this is a new species it could be a very remarkable find. I hope scientists have a chance to study it and share their findings. Until then ………..