Top-lane crab: new species named after League of Legends character

The ‘furry’ crustacean is the latest discovery to be given a video-game-inspired name.

Small white-and-brown crab species besides the head of the League of Legends character Teemo.
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Species of the crab family Xanthidae go by many names: gorilla crabs, mud crabs, pebble crabs, rubble crabs – the list goes on. But when it was time to name a tiny, ‘furry’ new species from China, researchers drew unlikely inspiration from the video game League of Legends.

Gothus teemo was named after the character Teemo from the immensely popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) thanks to its distinctive appearance.

Two images of a small white-and-brown crab species besides Teemo from League of Legends.
Gothus teemo male holotype (left), Teemo (right).

Loosely resembling a raccoon, Teemo is small and fluffy with a brown and white intermingled fur coat. The new species’ small size, densely covered short setae (bristles), and brown-striped colouration quickly drew comparisons.

Published in the open-access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, the discovery was made during an expedition to the coral reefs of the South China Sea. There researchers discovered the new species in the Xisha Islands (Paracel Islands) and Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands).

An illustration of the crab species Gothus teemo. It is black with brown patterning.
Illustration of Gothus teemo by by Fei Gao.

The team collected specimens while scuba diving, photographing them and conserving them for further study. The specimens are now housed at the Marine Biological Museum, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao, China.

This new-to-science crab represents not only a new species, but also an entirely new genus. Sticking to a theme, researchers named the genus after a game – albeit one created 2,500 years before League of Legends!

The boardgame Go. Black and white counters on a a wooden box with a grid pattern.
The ancient Chinese board game, Go.

They chose the name Gothus for the genus, drawing inspiration from the ancient Chinese strategy board game, Go. The name alludes to the intermingled black and white patterns on the carapace of Gothus species, beneath which lie circular granules resembling the pieces of the game.

As part of their study, the researchers suggested the reclassification of the species Actaea consobrina into the genus Gothus. This reclassification was based on both morphological and molecular evidence.

A white crab with balck and orange dots.
Actaea consobrina, proposed as Gothus consobrina.

Gothus teemo is by no means the only new species named after a video game character. Just last week, we shared a story from our Biodiversity Data Journal about a blind spider named after the Monster Hunter character Khezu – check out the story below!

Gothus teemo is yet another reminder that countless unknown creatures are just waiting to be discovered. The coral reefs of the South China Sea continue to be a rich source of new and fascinating species. And, who knows, perhaps there’s a Gothus tristana out there, too.

Original source

Yuan Z-M, Jiang W, Sha Z-L (2024) Morphological and molecular evidence for Gothus teemo gen. et sp. nov., a new xanthid crab (Crustacea, Brachyura, Xanthoidea) from coral reefs in the South China Sea, with a review of the taxonomy of Actaeodes consobrinus (A. Milne-Edwards, 1867). Zoosystematics and Evolution 100(3): 965-987.

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