Tuesday, 28 July 2020


This fellow is the scorpion mud lobster, Thalassina anomala (Herbst, 1804), a species of decapod crustacean in the family Thalassinidae. He's a little sweetie with very interesting anatomy. 

Lobsters have their brains in their throats and they breathe and listen with their legs. To top all that wackiness off, they taste with their feet.

These fellows are not as desired as their larger cousins as food for us hoomins. True to their name, they taste a bit muddy. 

Thalassina anomala is an important member of the mangrove ecosystems in which they live. They are night borrowers who excavate om their search for tasty organic material to snack on. They push organic-rich soil from deep in the ground back up to the surface — creating huge mounds. Their burrowing also helps to aerate tidal waters. 

The mud mounds they build are pretty massive in scale in comparison to these fellows. The specimen you see here is 6.5 cm long but others can grow up to 30 cm and build mounds up to 3 metres in height. These mounds provide important habitat for other animals including Odontomachus malignus (an ant), termites, Episesarma singaporense (tree-climbing crab), Wolffogebia phuketensis (mangrove mud shrimp), Acrochordus granulatus (file snake), and plants such as the tree Excoecaria agallochoa and ferns.

Lobsters are members of the phylum Arthropoda, Euarthropoda. They are crustaceans, like crabs, crayfish, krill, shrimp and prawns. Crustaceans belong to the arthropods, a group of animals with an armoured external skeleton (an exoskeleton), a segmented body and jointed legs. The hard exoskeleton is the part that’s preserved as a fossil. This fellow has the typical tall, ovoid carapace and presumably, a short rostrum — though his rostrum is partially hidden in the matrix. 

The specimen you see here hails from Pleistocene deposits near Gunn Point, an outer rural locality sandwiched between the Howard and Adelaide Rivers east of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. His cousins can be found burrowing in the muds of brackish mangrove swamps and estuaries of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean today.