New Giant Crab Species Discovered in Costa Rica

Biologists conducting research in Costa Rica have discovered a new species of land crab. The crab, named Johngarthia cocoensis, was found on Cocos Island, located nearly 350 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

The species is notable, researchers say, because of the size of the adult crabs.

According to researchers Robert Perger, Rita Vargas, and Adam Wall, adult male crabs can measure as large as 15.7 inches.

“The similarity with other species in the western Pacific indicates that larvae (which develop in the sea) may have crossed to Cocos Island by sea currents,” they explained in their paper, published in the journal Zootaxa.

Cocos Island has a unique climate and ecosystem—distinct from other islands in the eastern Pacific region—characterized by tropical moist forests. The uninhabited island, however, has become increasingly threatened as illegal fishermen and poachers have begun trawling the waters and landing ashore.

To date, the government of Costa Rica has had a passive attitude towards illegal activities on and around the remote island. Hopefully, the discovery of a new species can attract the attention needed to spark a more concerted conservation effort.


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