Tiny crabs, the size of a pea, dwell inside the mantles of various bivalves, living off the food filtered by their hosts. A new species of these curious crustaceans has recently been reported from the Solomon Islands, where an individual was found to parasitise a large date mussel.
Because of the new pea crab’s characteristic large additional plate, covering its upper carapace, giving it the illusion of having two faces, it has been named after Janus, the Roman two-faced god. Discoverers Dr Peter Ng, National University of Singapore, and Dr Christopher Meyer, U.S. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, have their findings published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Being only the second species in the genus (the first was from Malaysia), the new pea crab Serenotheres janus can be distinguished by its broader carapace and other features. It is cream-yellow in colour.
Both representatives of the genus are unique in having an additional large plate covering the upper side of the carapace. However, its purpose is still unknown. The two pea crabs are also the only known parasites of the rock-boring bivalves of the mytilid subfamily Lithophaginae.
Ng PKL, Meyer C (2016) A new species of pea crab of the genus Serenotheres Ahyong & Ng, 2005 (Crustacea, Brachyura, Pinnotheridae) from the date mussel Leiosolenus Carpenter, 1857 (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Mytilidae, Lithophaginae) from the Solomon Islands. ZooKeys 623: 31-41. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.623.10272