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Distinguished Author

Bocage-JV-Barbosa-du-1823-1.jpg

José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage
  (1823–1907).

A Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was the curator of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon. His work at the Museum consisted in acquiring, describing and coordinating collections, many of which arrived from the Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Angola, Mozambique, etc. He published more than 200 taxonomic papers on mammals, birds, and fishes. In the 1880s he became the Minister of the Navy and later the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Portugal. The zoology collection at the Lisbon Museum is called the Bocage Museum in his honor. He was responsible for identifying many new species, which he named according to the naturalist who found them.

Species of the month

Common Hermit Crab

Pagurus bernhardus

Pagurus bernhardus

Some facts on this crab:

Carapace length: Up to 4.5 cm.

Body length: Up to 8 cm.

Habitat: Rocky and sandy substrata from mean tide level to 140 m. depth.

Range: European and North American coastal waters.

Diet: Mainly detritus (decomposing organic matter).

First described: By the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in 1758, who originally named it Cancer bernhardus.


Pagurus bernhardus chooses its home and carries it on the back wherever it goes. The body of this hermit crab lacks a hard, protected carapace. Without a shell it is extremely vulnerable to predators, so it searchs for an empty snail shell (for example whelk or periwinkle) and adopts it for an home. The availability of suitable shells is often limited, which leads to intense competition among the crabs for shells of the proper size and condition. This crab often grows in the shell the sea anemone Calliactis parasitica which helps to protect the crab with its nettling tentacles, and in exchange enjoys the crab's food. Pagurus bernhardus, which is a reddish or brownish crab, walks on its second and third pairs of legs and uses the strongly reduced fourth and fifth pairs to grip the central column of the snail shell and to circulate breathing water. The genus Pagurus contains some 180 species and belongs to the hermit crab family Paguridae, along with 79 other genera.

See also: Species of previous months

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