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Mithraculus Sculptus Brief Summary
The crab Mithraculus sculptus, commonly known as the Green Clinging Crab or the Green Emerald Crab, is a small crustacean found in shallow areas of the tropical Western Atlantic (Rhyne et al. 2006). It has been found in areas from Miami to northern Brazil, and is common in the intermediate islands of the Bahamas and Caribbean (Williams 1984). Previously known as Mithrax sculptus, the species was name was changed to Mithraculus scultpus after a motion by White in 1847 to split Mithrax into two subgenera, Mithrax and Mithraculus due to physiological differences (White 1847). Recent studies on the molecular phylogeny of M. sculptus suggest that this distinction may not be an accurate reflection of the genetic phylogeny (Baeza et al. 2010). Studies into the larval development of the Mithrax-Mithraculus complex also detract from the validity of splitting Mithrax into subgenera, but the current designation has not yet changed (Rhyne et al. 2006).
Mithraculus sculptus is a small crab with an attractive green coloration that is well equipped to dine on a variety of foods, most commonly filamentous or fleshy algae and other vegetation (Penha-Lopes et al. 2006). These two characteristics, the decorative appearance and algae targeted herbivory, make M. sculptus extremely popular in tropical aquacultures (Figueiredo 2008). Though it is not well researched, some researchers believe M. sculptus to be one of the most heavily traded crustaceans for aquarium use (Rhyne et al. 2006).