Friday 20 December 2013

A new species of Sponge dwelling Pontoniine Shrimp from Sabah State, Malaysia.

The Pontoniine Shrimps are an unusual group of Decapod Crustaceans (the group that also includes Crabs, Lobsters and most 'Shrimps') noted for their tendency to form commensal relationships with other invertebrates. Species are known which have such relationships with Sponges, Corals, Jellyfish, Hydrozoans, Siphonophores, Soft Corals, Snails, Clams, Starfish, Brittlestars, Crinoids, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and Sea Squirts. They are found in all tropical and sub-tropical marine waters, but are at their most abundant and diverse in the waters of the tropical Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 6 August 2013, Charles Fransen of the Department of Marine Zoology at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden describes a new species of Sponge dwelling Pontoniine Shrimp from Sabah State, Malaysia.

The new species is placed in the genus Nippontonia, which previously contained only a single species, the Sponge-dwelling Nippontonia minirostris from the Japanese Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan. The new species is named Nippontonia christellae, in honour of the author's sister-in-law, Christel van Eijnatten, for her 'inspiring perseverance and positivism in conquering life again after it was almost taken from

Nippontonia christellae is ~10 mm Shrimp, translucent and dotted with brown or green chromatophores (coloured cells). It was found living inside the Sponge Acanthostrongylophora ingens, and another unknown black Sponge at a depths of 10-15 m off the coast of Ligitan Island in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah State Malaysia (i.e. northern Borneo).

Nippontonia christellae, (top) female carrying eggs inside the Sponge Acanthostrongylophora ingens, and (bottom) line drawing of the same. Scale bar is 4 mm. Fransen (2013).

The approximate location of Ligitan Island, where Nippontonia christellae was discovered. Google Maps.

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