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Volume 9, 1876
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Art. LXIV.—Notes on New Zealand Crustacea.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 9th December, 1876.]

The publication of the Catalogue of our Crustacea * has led to the revision of the collection in the Colonial Museum, and the detection of several new species, one of which I have now to record.

The only previously published list of the Crustacea of the New Zealand area is that given by the late Dr. Gray in the Appendix to Deiffenbach's work, and as that list enumerates only nineteen species, whilst the catalogue describes 140 species, some idea may be formed of the extensive addition which has been made to our knowledge of this interesting order, chiefly due to the American, French, and Austrian expeditions that have visited these shores. At the same time many species are recorded as from New Zealand which are unknown to local collectors, so that it is possible that the list

[Footnote] * “Catalogue of the Stalk and Sessile-eyed Crustacea of New Zealand,” by E. J. Miers, F.L.S., London, 1876, 136 pp., 3 plates. Prepared and published for the Colonial Museum and Geological Survey Department.

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will have to be reduced in number. Mr. Miers has pointed out the remarkable resemblance which exists between the Crustacea of New Zealand and those of the British seas, so that a comparison of the number recorded for the two areas may suggest where our knowledge of the subject is still most incomplete.

Of Sessile-eyed Crustacea, which are mostly of minute size and frequently parasitic on fish, 101 species occur in the British seas, whilst only 47 are recorded from New Zealand. Of Stalk-eyed Crustacea, such as crabs, lobsters, prawns, and the like, which are more obvious, 98 species are known in Britain, and there are already 93 recorded for New Zealand.

The absence of the larger species of crabs and lobsters, used as food in other countries, from the coast of New Zealand, is remarkable, as the conditions for their development appear to be favourable, and, from their fossil remains, such large limbed forms must have abounded in the seas of the early tertiary period. When we consider the character of the New Zealand coast, with its deep inlets and rocky islets covered with kelp, affording lurking-places for large predaceous Crustacea, it is remarkable that only one large species of crayfish should be found of size suitable to be used as food, and I would suggest the introduction of the crab and lobster as a matter deserving of the attention of our Acclimatization Societies.

Platyonychus ocellatus

Differs from P. bipustulatus, M. Edwd., * in having only three inter-orbital spines, and in the absence of a middle lobe in the orbital margin. The regions are not well defined, and the limbs are more granulated, the second pair hardly differing from the third and fourth. Abdomen narrow, with five segments. Colour brownish, with red granulated spots.

Length, 2.2 inches; breadth, 2.6 inches.

A single specimen, labelled Portunus ocellatus (MSS. by Capt. Hutton), in the Colonial Museum collection.

Locality: Wellington Harbour.

Postscript.—March 1st, 1877.

A drawing of this species was sent to Mr. Miers, and in reply the following information has been received:—

The Platyonychus I believe to be without doubt the P. ocellatus, Later., which inhabits the Atlantic coast of America and the Gulf of Mexico. I send you the description of that species by M. A. Milne Edwards for comparison. So far as I know P. ocellatus has not been found further south than the Straits of Florida.

[Footnote] * Miers, loc. cit., p. 32.

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Platyonychus ocellatus.

Cancer ocellatus, Herbut, “Naturg. Krabben a Krebse,” Vol. III., p 61, Pl. XLIX., Fig. 4 (1799). Portunus pictus, Say., “Journ. Ac. Nat. Sci., Phil.,” Vol. I., p. 62, Pl. IV., Fig. 4 (1817). Platyonychus ocellatus, Latr., “Encycl. Mith.,” Vol. X., p. 152 (1825; M. Edw., “Hist. Nat. Crust.,” Vol. I., p. 437 (1834); “Archis. Mus. Hist. Nat.,” Vol. X., p, 415, Pl. XXXVI, Fig. 4 (1861).

Carapace broad, very finely granulous, and with the regions scarcely marked. Latero-anterior margins divided into five well-separated acute teeth, which are directed forwards. Front narrow, and divided into three teeth, the median long and acute, the lateral ones shorter. Orbital margin straight, and divided by a single fissure. External maxillipedes long, the third joint deeply notched on the inner side for the insertion of the mobile portion. Endostome smooth. Anterior legs moderate. Arm with five denticules upon its anterior margin. Wrist with two spines, one at its antero-internal angle, the other on its outer surface. Head longitudinally traversed with slightly granulous carinæ, and with a spine on the inside above the base of the mobile finger. Ambulatory legs short and slender. Last joint of the swimming legs broad and oval. Abdomen of male tongue-shaped, five-jointed, the seventh very small and encased in the sixth.

Hab.: Coasts of United States; Gulf of Mexico.

With reference to a doubtful form of Halimus, also submitted to Mr. Miers, he remarks:—

“The Halimus, of which you showed a drawing, may prove to be a distinct species. It is evidently closely allied to H. hectori, Miers, the tubercles occupying the same position, but being in some places replaced by spines, also the rostral spines are longer and more acute. These differences may be due to age or sex. M. A. Milne Edwards has informed me that he described H. hectori as a new genus and species under the name of Erichoplatus huttoni, but I believe my name has the priority by a few weeks. Only an actual comparison of your variety with the type of H. hectori would enable me to determine whether it is really distinct, and whether M. Milne Edwards' genus can be adopted.”

Mr. Miers also furnished a notice of an additional species to his catalogue, and further notes referring to our fresh-water crayfish:—

Squilla armata.

Squilla armata, M. Edw., “Hist. Nat. Crust.,” Vol. II., p. 521 (1834); Gray, “Hist. Chile. Zool.,” Vol. III., Crust., p. 223 (1849).

M. Milne Edwards merely says of this species that “it is very nearly allied to S. mantis, from which it is distinguished by the absence of crests

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upon the carapace, and by the existence of two spiniform teeth upon the upper surface of the ophthalmic ring. The terminal joints of the large prehensile limbs (griffes) have seven teeth. Length, 3 ½ inches.”

Hab.: Auckland Islands; Laurie Harbour. (“Coll. Brit. Mus.”) Chili. (Mus. Paris.)

In the example in the British Museum collection the carapace is smooth, with two longitudinal grooves above, and somewhat emarginate behind, the antero-lateral angles being armed with two small spines. The rostral plate is semi-oval, and rounded at its distal extremity. The spines upon the ophthalmic segment are small but distinct. There are two longer spines upon the basal joint of the antennules. There are six longitudinal carinæ upon each of the first six segments of the abdomen, which terminate posteriorly in spinules upon the fourth to sixth segments. There is a high median longitudinal ridge terminating posteriorly in a spine upon the terminal segment, which has six longer marginal spines, besides the small intervening spinules.

The specimen from Auckland Islands agrees with Milne Edwards' short diagnosis, and in all important particulars with the longer description in the “Historia de Chile,” except that in that description no mention is made of the small spines at the antero-lateral angles of the carapace.