From: Yale Environment 360 & University of Illinois
Published January 25, 2011 12:18 PM

Meet the new species of "Bearded" Crayfish

U.S. biologists have discovered a new and distinct species of crayfish in Tennessee and Alabama that is twice the size of other species, an example of a new species being discovered in a well-explored area.


Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Eastern Kentucky University found the first specimen under a large rock in the deep waters of a Tennessee creek after hearing reports of similar findings. The new species of crustacean, called Barbicambarus simmonsi, is about five inches long and has an unusual "bearded" antennae as a result of the presence of tiny hair-like bristles called setae. "This isn't a crayfish that someone would have picked up and just said, 'Oh, it’s another crayfish,' and put it back," said Chris Taylor, curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and co-discoverer of the crayfish. Researchers say the species is extremely difficult to find; it took numerous visits to the region to find enough samples to confirm that they had discovered a new species.

It is unusual for aquatic biologists to miss a big species like Barbicambarus simmonsi. The population of this crayfish appears to be very sparse, however. Individuals were usually found under the biggest rocks in the deepest parts of a stream.

The new species, Barbicambarus simmonsi (left) is more than twice the size of a typical crayfish found in the same creek -- and yet generations of aquatic biologists somehow missed it. | Photo credit: L. Brian Stauffer

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