A Freshwater Crustacean That's a Work of Art - Observation of the Week, 3/7/23

Our (belated) Observation of the Week is this Freshwater Anomuran (likely in the genus Aegla, known as Pancoras in Spanish), seen in Uruguay by @danielamartinezz!

“The story of this little crustacean began on a walk through Minas (Lavalleja), in the middle of summer,” says Daniela Martínez.

While many others took the opportunity to carry out recreational activities at the San Francisco stream, my first instinct is always to go straight to observe what surrounds me and look for which beings are around, going unnoticed by most human eyes. The first thing I noticed was a large number of dragonfly nymphs in the water, accompanied by adult dragonflies fluttering across the landscape above the water. 

Then my father showed me the Aegla crustacean he found (he is also passionate about getting lost in nature). I’ve rarely seen them before, since they are very elusive, and I immediately took some photos of it. I love nature photography and recording everything I see to be able to share it with the rest in order to make the little creatures that live with us more visible.

Something curious I realized is that despite the fact that the crustaceans of the genus Aegla are native to my country, many people who saw the photo told me that they had never seen this animal, and couldn’t believe the strange shape it has, as if time had not passed for it, with its great armor that reminds us of the ancient creatures that inhabited the Earth.

While they may look like true crabs at first glance, anomurans belong to a separate infraorder that contains familiar crustaceans such as hermit crabs, king crabs, and porcelain crabs (yes, those all have English common names that contain “crab”). Often, the hind-most pair of legs of an anomuran are hidden under the carapace and used the clean the gills. The genus Aegla currently contains about seventy species, all of which live in South American freshwater habitats.

Daniela (below) says she’s always had a passion for nature, and 

the mere idea of such different beings living with us with their great variety of shapes, colors, and lifestyles has always captivated my attention. Which led me to want to know more, because I think that our world can be so different depending on which species is seeing it. Which led me to enroll in the University of Sciences of UdelaR, and become the biologist I am.

Daniela joined iNat in 2019 and especially enjoys looking at observations from different parts of the world, which she says is “a great activity for me since I am passionate about biogeography. I even did my degree thesis in the study of the factors that model the geographical patterns of native continental mammals of Uruguay.”

[iNaturalist] is a good citizen science tool, which allows everyone to contribute to the knowledge of the world that surrounds us, regardless of whether they have a scientific background or not. Because in the application there are many experts willing to help quickly with the identification. I always jokingly tell my friends that it's like a kind of "Pokemon Go", that game where people were looking for fictitious creatures, but in real life, hoping with this comparison to encourage the use of the application.

(Some quotes were lightly edited for clarity.)

- The Aegla painting you see above was made by Daniela!

- Check out the various colors of different Aegla on iNat!

- Here’s some footage of an Aegla walking about.

- iNatUY site admin @flo_grattarola and iNatUY user @jumanbar made this really cool interactive tool to find iNat data gaps in Uruguay.

Publicado el miércoles, 08 de marzo de 2023 a las 01:01 AM por tiwane tiwane


That's so cool! Thanks for sharing your observations with us, Daniela!

Anotado por fluffyinca hace 12 meses

Great photo of a cool little animal!

Anotado por m_whitson hace 12 meses

Wow -- what an amazing illustration as well, Daniela! Great job! :)

Anotado por sambiology hace 12 meses

lovely find!!

Anotado por schizoform hace 12 meses

That's great!

Anotado por vireyajacquard hace 12 meses

Nice post! Great illustration!!

Anotado por hkibak hace 12 meses

Great Post! Enjoyed the video!

Anotado por derrell_d hace 12 meses

Thank you for sharing!

Anotado por chuckt2007 hace 12 meses

Very cool! Used to have a few Aegla in my home aquarium, they're super fun!

Anotado por colorado_crustaceans hace 12 meses

Very nice! I learned something today! Someday I will visit South America and now I have another interesting creature to search for. :-)

Anotado por beschwar hace 12 meses

Good to hear from other naturalists across the world. Nice find, Daniela!

Anotado por migsgreenworld hace 12 meses

Nice find and awesome art!!! : )

Anotado por jakob31 hace 12 meses

I have definitely used the "Pokemon Go" analogy for SEEK and iNat. People are viewing the world through their phones anyway. Might as well learn something.

Anotado por mboller hace 12 meses

Wow! What an amazing creature. I am an artist myself and that is absolute talent! Great job Daniela!

Anotado por breah_hurley129 hace 12 meses

This is fantastic!

Anotado por robinellison hace 12 meses

Thanks so much for letting us see this really great creature!

Anotado por susanhewitt hace 12 meses


Anotado por diego_caballero hace 12 meses

Wonderful observation and equally wonderful illustration! Great job on both!

Anotado por rahopko hace 12 meses

What a great find~ VERY Curious looking creature! I do have issue with the Headline: "Work of Art"...Does NOT APPLY. ART by definition, is ARTIFICIAL! Man-Made. Being a painter, I am highly sensitive to proper use of the word!

Anotado por katharinab hace 12 meses

So cool, thank you for sharing Daniela!

Anotado por creaturecalledkate hace 12 meses


Anotado por gmmv80 hace 12 meses

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