Species of ‘Bearded’ Crayfish Discovered in Waters of U.S. South

U.S. biologists have discovered a new and distinct species of crayfish in Tennessee and Alabama that is twice the size of other species, an example of a new species being discovered in a well-explored area.
Courtesy of Carl Williams
Barbicambarus simmonsi
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Eastern Kentucky University found the first specimen under a large rock in the deep waters of a Tennessee creek after hearing reports of similar findings. The new species of crustacean, called Barbicambarus simmonsi, is about five inches long and has an unusual “bearded” antennae as a result of the presence of tiny hair-like bristles called setae. “This isn’t a crayfish that someone would have picked up and just said, ‘Oh, it’s another crayfish,’ and put it back,” said Chris Taylor, curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and co-discoverer of the crayfish. Researchers say the species is extremely difficult to find; it took numerous visits to the region to find enough samples to confirm that they had discovered a new species.