A previously unknown species of giant crayfish has been discovered by two aquatic biologists in Tennessee. This new species is called Barbicambarus simmonis.
Photo credit: L. Brian Stauffer.
Barbicambarus simmonis is 5 inches long, which is twice the size of the average crayfish.
More than half of the 600 known species of crayfish in the world are found in North America.
The discovery of the Barbicambarus simmonis is described in a paper in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.
University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana aquatic biologist Chris Taylor and Eastern Kentucky University biological sciences professor Guenter Schuster are the co-discoverers.
The blog io9 went a bit overboard in noting it thusly:
It’s very rare to find a completely new species that’s this big and distinctive, particularly in a well-studied part of the United States that has been under pretty much constant academic investigation for the last fifty years. Cryptozoologists might want to savor this moment – this is probably the closest real scientific equivalent to finding mythical creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster that they’re ever going to get.
Of course, there is little reality in this io9 comment. Other close “real scientific equivalents” to finding Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monsters – all a lot bigger than a crayfish – happen rather more frequently than acknowledged by the blogsphere. The new species are coming fast and furiously these days, from the six-foot-long monitor lizard discovered in 2010 to the 26-ft-wide giant mantra ray in 2008. Indeed, there are dozens of new species spotlighted every year on Cryptomundo and remarkable discoveries are savored weekly.
Yes, finding new animals in North America is a rare phenomenon, but not unknown. During the summer of 2010, for example, it was announced a new turtle was found in the USA.
The Pearl Map Turtle (Graptemys pearlensis) was a new species found in the Pearl River in Louisiana and Mississippi.