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Crayfish Australia: Fascinating new crayfish species is a ferocious cannibal

Crayfish crossing the trail at Lake Woodruff
Crayfish crossing the trail at Lake Woodruff
Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have discovered that Australia's most advanced and fastest expanding regions was hiding one of the world's smallest species of crayfish. Robert B. McCormack, of The Australian Crayfish Project, described the new species as belonging to the genus Gramastacus lacus. The surprising crayfish find was made near New South Wales coastal regions, WebProNews said Saturday. The results of the study were reported in the journal ZooKeys.

The newly discovered crayfish is very small (an average of 12 to 18 millimeters long) and the biggest one found was just 0.8 inches (21 mm) long, and weighed 0.2 ounces (7 grams), Live Science explained. The Gramastacus lacus, dubbed "lake yabby" by the locals, faces endangerment because of development in its coastal habitat.

Live Science says that the new crayfish species is also a cannibal. Becky Osin writes...."Males of the new species grow bigger than females, but both sexes have long claws called chelae that they wave in defense when menaced by other crayfish or predators (these crayfish are cannibals)." The creature is said to have an incredible ability to dig deep compared to its size which helps it survive in areas such as ephemeral habitats, coastal lakes and lagoons.

As the lifestyle of crustacea species depend on periodic natural flooding, a decline in groundwater levels threatens it survival. Unfortunately, much of its natural habitat has been lost because of these evanescent fields being drained and used for the first time in agriculture, industry and other developments. gives further insight on the issue...."Suitable habitat further south in NSW is likely to have few specimens, while in the north, no individuals are known. This is probably down to the rapid recent spread of human activity in these coastal areas near Newcastle. The species could well be threatened, as it is already. The National Park system, including Myall Lakes is fortunately prominent in the area, because there is enough predation from non-human sources such as eels, gudgeon, alien minnows, giant water bugs known as Lethocerus insulanus, turtles, lizards and innumerable bird."