Indonesian researchers identify three-colored crabs found in Mt Kelam, W Kalimantan

Three-colored crab named Lepidothelphusa menneri has different sized claws, with the right claw being smaller than the left. (BRIN)

Three-colored crab named Lepidothelphusa menneri has different sized claws, with the right claw being smaller than the left.


Bogor, W Java (Indonesia Window) – Researchers at the Center for Biosystematics and Evolution Research, Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Daisy Wowor and a team from the National University of Singapore, recently officially published the discovery of a new species of three-colored crab Lepidothelphusa with name Lepidothelphusa menneri.


The three-colored crab was found in Mount Kelam, Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, according to a press release from BRIN received here on Friday.

The species identification was published in Zootaxa Number 5397 Volume 2 dated January 4, 2024.

Scientific literatures recorded that crabs with the genus Lepidothelphusa were previously discovered by Colosi in Sarawak, Malaysia, in 1920.


The mini-sized crab found in West Kalimantan has very beautiful and unique color combinations. Its carapace is smooth with a pattern of three contrasting colors. One third of its body, starting from the head and eyes, is bright yellow to orange. Meanwhile, the middle part is dark brown to purplish black, and the remaining third of the posterior part is pale to bright blue.

Another unique feature of this crab is the shape of its two large pincers, with the right claw is smaller than the left. The left claw being smaller is not because it was cut off and then grew, but is a distinctive morphological characteristic.

“Having a small body measuring around 10 mm x 8.8 mm make us believe this crab is not a climber. You need to be careful to find them, because these crabs live on the banks of shallow rivers with gravel and stone substrates. “This crab really likes to hide behind leaf litter and roots,” Daisy explained.


She further explained that this genus is divided into six species, namely Lepidothelphusa cognettii, L. flavochela, L. lime, L. loi, L. padawan, and L. sangon. “All of them are from western Sarawak, East Malaysia,” she noted.

The etymology of the new species is taken from Jochen K Menner, who first informed the author about the species in Kalimantan, then facilitated the collection of specimens with locals in Sintang district for research purposes.

The conservation status of this new species is still difficult to determine because its exact distribution area has not been mapped.


Local collectors are currently collecting the crabs to trade to Singapore, China and Europe.

Considering that most Lepidothelphusa species have small broodstock sizes with a limited egg-laying capacity of around 21 eggs, it is estimated that exploitation of this species as pets could potentially pose a threat. Therefore, the status of this species needs to be considered to be considered vulnerable.

Reporting by Indonesia Window


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