A day in the life of a taxonomist

I know I can’t really call myself a taxonomist yet, seeing as I’ve only been doing this volunteer job 2 weeks and to be honest know very little about taxonomy (this is something I hope to learn a lot about through this project), but I thought I’d give you a glimpse of the wonders a taxonomist at a museum is exposed to. Of my 60 odd draws that I am now responsible for, there are mountains of fascinating creatures that never fail to impress me, so here are just a few wonders of entomology… This is one of the rows of cupboards which line the etomology department, and here we see jars filled with hundreds of tiny specimens. They look beautiful and the time and effort which goes into sorting these creatures is priceless.

 Litochaera bispinosa – with bispinosa referring to a “two-spined” crab. This spelling of Litochaera (normally spelt Litocheira) may refer to the common name “slender-clawed” crab. It is normally found off the coast of Australia, but this name could be wrong, so I will have to look into this. The Litocheira Bispinosa enjoys algae covered rocks at tidal depths of up to 15 meters. [Thanks to Port Phillip Bay Taxonomy for this info]

I believe this comes under the name Polybius Henslowii, and this is characterised by a reddish-brown colour, with a pale underside and a circular, nearly flat shell. [Thanks to Marine Species Identification Portal for the info on Polybius Henslowii] I have seen quite a few specimens under this name, so I wonder whether this is a more general name, and if there are sub-species. Another thing to add to my to-do list!

One of many beautiful drawings included in our collection.

Ebalia Tumefacta fascinated me because they were so tiny! They are found on muddy or gravel surfaces in shallow seas. Look here for more information on these cool critters.

Hyas Araneus or the “Great Spider Crab” is seen here. Description reads: Leach With worm-tubes of Serpula triquetra and a sponge, Halisarca dujardinii. Firth of Clyde, 25 fathoms.

Serpula triquetra is a synonym for the name Pomatoceros triquetra, which means a “tube-building annelid”, which I think is growing all over this crabs legs. I couldn’t find much about the sponge mentioned, but will be looking into this when I come to re-classify them.

This furry looking creature interested me, and looked really nice in its box. Lomis Hirta, called the “Hairy Stone Crab”, lives in southern Australia and is a slow-moving crab which is camoflauged into the rocks by its furry appearance. This specimen read “Victoria” on its description, and I have found an account from Museum Victoria in Australia with an account of this species. I wonder if this is where this specimen originated?

As you can see, even just this handful of creatures have a story behind them, one which I am excited to uncover. It will take a lot of time but bear with me and soon enough this blog will be filled with crustacean life stories! Please comment below with additions to information I have put in my posts, as the internet is not always accurate, and the naming on my specimens may be out of date or incorrectly done in the past.

Hope you enjoyed.

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