Scientists have discovered a new species of crab on the island of Palawan, located off the west coast of the Philippines, which is characterized by its pretty purple hue. The crustacean, called Insulamon palawanense, was just one of four new species of crabs detailed in a recent study.

The particular violet coloration might just have evolved by chance, and must not necessarily have a very specific function or reason aside from being a general visual signal for recognition, said Henrik Freitag, the author of the study from the Senckenberg Museum of Zoology in Dresden, Germany.

Freitag adds that the crab's purple color may also have evolved so other species of crustaceans could recognize its brethren. The only other known species in the same genus was identified in 1992.

The four new crabs from Palawan, which were described in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, all measured between one and two inches wide. Despite the biodiversity of the island, Palawan is threatened by other species and environmental changes, including mining projects that are commonly carried out in that region. Palawan was declared a Unesco biosphere reserve in 1991, and the island has its own Strategic Environmental Plan.

The smaller the remaining natural habitat the greater is the risk to endemic fauna and flora, Freitag said. Even minor environmental changes can lead to extinctions. It is all the more important to do research in this region and show that the biodiversity of these islands is unique and worth protecting.

Palawan houses several researchers and scientists, however. The Aqua Palawana, a research institution developed by Freitag's Senckenberg and Phyllodrom Leipzig, has been active for more than 10 years. Students and researchers from Western Philippines University, De La Salle University in Manila, Ateneo de Manila University, National University of Singapore, and the Vienna Natural History Museum and Philippine National Museum are all regulars of the Aqua Palawana.

About 50 percent of species on Palawan, including the new purple crabs, are endemic to the island. Check out some pictures of the rare purple crabs up above, and tell us your comments and impressions in the section below.