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  • Biologists discover giant crayfish species right under their noses

    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.

    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.

    Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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      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.

      Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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      "If you were an aquatic biologist and you had seen this thing, you would have recognized it as something really, really different and you would have saved it," said Chris Taylor, the curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois and co-discoverer of a new crayfish species.

      Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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      For decades this region of Shoal Creek, where the new species was found, has been a hotspot for crayfish and the biologists who study them.

      Photo by Guenter Schuster

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      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 by L. Brian Stauffer

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      The discovery of an unusual new crayfish species in the southeast United States shows that biodiversity studies in the U.S. still have far to go, said Guenter Schuster, a co-discoverer of the new species, Barbicambarus simmonsi.

      Photo courtesy Guenter Schuster

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      The crayfish genus Barbicambarus is known for its densely "bearded" antennae.

      Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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      Researchers set up a seine downstream of an area of interest and then flip rocks and disturb the sediment to see what washes into the net. Here, University of Illinois biologist Chris Taylor and Emily Hartfield seine in the Buttahatchee River, in Marion County, Alabama.

      Photo by Guenter Schuster

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      The "bearded" setae on the antennae, bright red highlights and aquamarine tail fins add to the distinctiveness of the new species, Barbicambarus simmonsi.

      Photo courtesy Carl Williams

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