Invertebrates are poorly known, even colorful Squat Lobsters. Many of these brightly colored animals remain undescribed by scientists – a recent study of Florida Museum specimens identified 92 new species of Squat Lobsters.


Squat Lobsters (Munida valida)
From Monroe Co., Florida, Oct. 1989


Invertebrate Zoology


Squat Lobsters…you ever hear of them? Probably not. Have you ever seen them? No, probably not, too. And that’s because these are another group that are major denizens of the matrix — the inside of the reef — that incredible series of honeycombed cavities that much of reef life and most of reef diversity lives in. These animals live inside of dead coral cavities and some of them come out at night and some of them don’t. They are very colorful — as some of these images can show you — and they’re also very poorly known.

We had a study on an island next to Tahiti — Moorea — where we tried to enumerate all of the different marine invertebrates that lived there. Eight of the nine species of Squat Lobsters we collected in this one genus, Galathea, the main genus of Squat Lobsters, was new. They were described in a paper by a friend of mine who revised this group. Revision is when you take a large group of animals and you clean up the taxonomy and decide how many species there are and describe the new ones. Well, at the end of that study he had 144 species in this genus; 92 of those were new, including the eight from Moorea. So that tells you how little we know about the water planet, especially animals that live inside the reef.

Gustav Paulay
Curator, Invertebrate Zoology*
Florida Museum of Natural History


On display Sept. 23, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018, Rare, Beautiful & Fascinating: 100 Years @FloridaMuseum celebrated the Museum’s rich history. Each Museum collection was asked to contribute its most interesting items and share the stories that make them special. Though the physical exhibit is closed, this companion website remains online, providing an opportunity to experience the Florida Museum’s most treasured specimens.

Exhibit Area: Objects Tell Stories

Theme: Surprising Biodiversity

Cover of the All Things Beautiful bookWant to see more? Explore more than 300 breathtaking color photos of plants, animals, fossils and cultural heritage materials from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s collections in the award-winning book All Things Beautiful available from the University Press of Florida.

*This title was accurate at the time the exhibit was on display in 2017. Please visit the collection website to verify current staff and student information.

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