Barbicambarus simmonsi is about 5 inches long and belongs to a class of species known for their unusual “bearded” antennae. The hair-like bristles enhance the sensory abilities of the crustacean.
The stand-out find proves that new species can be found today even in well explored areas.
“This isn’t a crayfish that someone would have picked up and just said, ‘Oh, it’s another crayfish,’ and put it back,” University of Illinois aquatic biologist Chris Taylor, the curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and a co-discoverer of the new species, said in a press release. “If you were an aquatic biologist and you had seen this thing, because of the size and the setae on the antennae, you would have recognized it as something really, really different and you would have saved it.”
Taylor, along with Kentucky University biological sciences professor Guenter Schuster found their first specimen under one of the biggest rocks in the deepest part of Shoal Creek, a stream in southern Tennessee that ultimately drains into the Tennessee River.