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A crab named Thackerayi: Tejas Thackeray & team find 5 new species of crabs

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:50 IST

Uddhav Thackeray's younger son, Tejas, has made headlines recently. Lesser known in social and political circles, Tejas now has the discovery of five new species of fresh water crabs to his credit.

Tejas Thackeray is part of a team that found these new species in the Western Ghats. That's not all. The second year arts student, independently discovered one of the five species. And of course it's been named after him now- Gubernatoriana Thackerayi.

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The Gubernatoriana thackerayi. Photo: Tejas Thackeray

The Thackeray family has a special place in the political scene of Maharashtra. One cannot ignore the family when it comes to politics and other major events in the state.

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For four generations, members of the family have established themselves as politicians and much more. For example, you have Bal Thackeray who was a cartoonist by profession, and his son Uddhav Thackeray who is known for his photography skills.

Chance finding

It all began last year when Tejas Thackeray and his friends toured the Konkan region of the Western Ghats to explore the world of reptiles. Instead they came across an unusual set of crabs.

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Gubernatorianas waghi. Photo: Tejas Thackeray

"We were exploring the area adjoining Raghuvir Ghats, near Sawantwadi. While on the exploration, we came across few fresh water crabs. The peculiar colour and behaviour of the crabs grabbed our attention. We took photographs of them and also collected some live samples," Tejas said.

A detailed description of the crabs along with their photographs was sent to Dr SK Pati of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) for further clarification.

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Ghatiana atropurpurea. Photo: Tejas Thackeray

"After a meticulous study and thorough research, Dr Pati along with fellow scientist Annil Khaire arrived at the conclusion that all these five species of fresh water crab were documented for the first time. Once the discovery was confirmed, a research paper on the new species was published in the international journal Zootaxa, a peer-reviewed journal for animal taxonomists on 23 February," Tejas said. He is co-author of the paper along with Dr Pati and Anil Khire.

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The various specimen were named by Tejas, Dr Pati and Anil Khaire. These are:

  • Ghatiana atropurpurea (collected near Amboli)
  • Ghatiana splendida (found near Chakul)
  • Gubernatoriana thackerayi (discovered near Raghuveer Ghats)
  • Gubernatorianas alcocki
  • Gubernatorianas waghi
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Gubernatorianas alcocki. Photo: Tejas Thackeray

"These species are unique because of their magnificent appearance. The Ghatiana splendida has a beautiful pink carapace. All these species are indigenous to the Western Ghats. Though we found the species in a small patch, they could be present at various other places in the Ghats as well," Tejas said. He says that crabs are highly adaptable to their surroundings and are very capable of surviving in different habitats including oceans.

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Ghatiana splendida. Photo: Tejas Thackeray

Initially, he wanted to name the red coloured crab as Gubernatoriana rubra. "However, Dr Pati, who was highly impressed by the discovery felt that it should be named after the person who discovered it, hence it was later named Gubernatoriana thackerayi," Tejas recounts.

Edited by Anna Verghese

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First published: 1 March 2016, 7:29 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.