Named for their folding tail (or abdomen) beneath the body, squat lobsters are more related to hermit crabs than to well-known lobsters or crabs. There are more than 1,000 species and, while they are found everywhere from Antarctic waters to tropical areas in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, they are most diverse in the tropics of the West Pacific.
Every year dozens of new species are described, especially deep-sea squat lobsters. Yet, the real diversity of these animals is poorly known as current classification has relied historically on the morphology, or character traits, of these animals. In a new study in Invertebrate Systematics researchers in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) at Harvard University describe five new deep-sea squat lobster species. Combining molecular data and microCT their findings show a wider species distribution range and shallower genetic diversity, calling for a revision of the current classification of squat lobsters.
Munidopsis tridentata, now known as Munidopsis serricornis Picture taken by S. Bernhardt