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"The family Portunidae are distinguished from the rest of the round-fronted (cyclometope) crabs by the adaptation of some of their legs for swimming, to which end these limbs are transformed into flattened paddles. The result is often to confer upon the crabs a power of darting at high speed through the water, which would hardly be credited by those who have not watched them. Corresponding to this mobility they have a thin flattened form of body, enabling them to pass sideways through the water, and a lightness gained at the expense of the protective cuticle. These peculiarities give the swimming crabs a strikingly different bodily form from the heavily-built, slow-moving Xanthids, which is moreover accompanied by an equally marked difference of habitat. The Xanthids are usually to be found on the reef or shore exposed to the full force of the breakers. In this position the lightly-built swimming crabs would be dashed to pieces against the rocks. Their proper haunt is a space of quiet waters, such as the lagoon of a coral atoll, and as these places are, in the tropics, generally bottomed with white or greyish coral sand, on which the crabs lie, and in which they often hide their bodies, they frequently mimic it by their pale greyish color, often in a manner as striking as that in which flat-fish resemble the shingly bottom they live on (Borradaile, 1902; pg. 199)."

"The family is highly variable and varietal and is probably undergoing rapid evolution in many directions (Borradaile, 1902; pg. 199)."


Public Domain

Nolasco, Jannel

Source: Maldives and Laccadives

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