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Lomis hirta (Family Lomisidae)

Hairy Stone Crab

Distribution:

The Hairy Stone Crab ranges from far eastern Victoria to Bunbury in southern Western Australia, and Tasmania. (VIC, TAS, SA, WA)

Features:

The Hairy Stone Crab is broad and extremely flat, with unusual flattened claws, which open from side-side rather than up and down. Its antennae and mouthparts are a vivid blue in colour. Viewed from above, this crab is somewhat rectangular, reaching a length of 30 mm and a width of some 15 to 25 mm.

The upper surface of the Hairy Stone Crab's shell is brown in colour and the body and legs have a bluish-white undersurface. This crab takes its name from the distinctive covering of brown, hairy bristles and bead-like granules. The bristles and granules cover its carapace, or shell; they also cover the short, broad, flattened first pair of legs (the chelipeds) which support the large claws. This species also has three pairs of robust walking legs, equal in size. The hindmost last pair of walking legs are smaller than the rest, hidden under the rear of the carapace, so that they are of no use in walking. The antennae are long and hairy, and thought to be used when filtering fine planktonic food particles from the water. Males and females are similar in appearance.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Hairy Stone Crab occurs at low tide levels on medium to high-energy rocky shores and moderately exposed reef, usually under flat-bottomed stones and boulders. It is slow moving, and may remain inconspicuous on and under rocks rather than try to escape, relying on its excellent camouflage. It may feed by filtering plankton from the stream of water moving past.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

No threats to the Hairy Stone Crab have been identified.

Other Comments:

Lomis hirta was described by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in1818. The genus name appears to be derived from the Greek: loma = fringe, and the species name is from the Latin: hirta = shaggy , rough, or hairy, which describes this species well. The Hairy Stone Crab is not a true crab. It is a member of the Anomura, a group that includes hermit crabs, porcelain crabs and mole crabs; in all of these, the last pair of legs is much smaller than the other three pairs, and in some rear of the body may be elongated. The genus Lomis is endemic to southern Australia.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1988). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 47, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p. 201, Reed.

Hale, H.M. (1876). The Crustaceans of South Australia. Pts. I & II. p. 96, South Aust. Govt. Press.

Jones, D. & Morgan, G. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. p. 127, Reed.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 111, Museum of Victoria.

Acknowledgments:

Resource by Keith Davey.

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