Crustacean collection

Curator: Alexander Alyakrinsky.

955 specimens. The core of the collection is about 400 crabs collected during the expedition of the Institute of Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences to the islands of the Pacific Ocean in 1971. Later, the collection was replenished by Alexander Alyakrinsky, who brought more than 100 crabs from Malaysia, Thailand, the Sunda Islands, the Maluku Islands (Indonesia), and the Philippine Islands, as well as occasional gatherings of other museum employees.


The jewel of the collection is the giant Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempheri), acquired by the founder of the museum Alexander Kohts in 1919. The giant crab belongs to the family of so-called spider crabs (Majidae), one of the largest families of true crabs. This family also includes species of much smaller sizes, many of which are part of the museum's collection. Some of them are known for their ability to disguise. For example, they may attach various algae to the upper surface of their carapace, which makes them almost invisible on the seabed.


Crabs of the Dorippidae family, also widely represented in the Darwin Museum collection, use other means of disguise. They hold above empty shells of bivalve mollusks themselves with the help of two pairs of legs specially adapted for these purposes. While swimming crabs of the Portunidae family act differently when facing danger. They use their sharp claws, so very few predators would dare to attack them. Judging by their name, swimming crabs are also notable for their ability to swim. The museum’s collection contains more than 50 specimens of these crustaceans.


Fiddler crabs (genus Uca) also have large claws, but only one and only the males. They are most well known for their sexually dimorphic claws - the males’ major claw is much larger than the minor claw while the females’ claws are both the same size. The smaller claw is used to grab food - silt. The role of a large claw is to signal that the territory is occupied or to lure a female. Each species of fiddler crabs has its own "gesture language." The museum collection holds more than 40 specimens of fiddler crabs.


12 species of endemic amphipods of Lake Baikal are also of great scientific value.

Fiddler crab (Uca vocans L.). Female on the left, male on the right.