This tiny crab was found climbing mangrove trees in Hong Kong. ZooKeys

Crabs are supposed to stick to the water, but in China they can climb trees.

Scientists discovered a new species of the crustacean — as they were scampering up mangrove trees growing in the brackish water on Hong Kong’s east coast. Those trees can get up to 10 feet tall and the crabs, named Haberma tingkok, were found between 5 and 6 feet up, according to a study in the journal ZooKeys, “walking on the bark of the branches at ebbing and low tides.”

Journal publisher Pensoft Publishers explained that the crabs the scientists collected for study are pretty tiny. Both the males and females are between 8 and 9 millimeters long. Both sexes also have a hard brown upper shell, long legs and orange pincers, but the one difference between the guys and gals is that the male crabs had more stout claws while in the female crabs “they are distinctly more slender.”

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The crab is now part of an exclusive club — there are only two other species in its genus, Haberma, all of which scientist and coauthor Peter Ng, from the National University of Singapore, has been involved with. For the newest species, he worked with Stefano Cannicci, from the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong.

The pair discovered the tree-climbers in Tolo Harbour, in an area called Ting Kok. The type of mangroves they were climbing on are Kandelia obovata, which are common in Hong Kong.

“The discovery of the tiny crustacean once again proves how little is known about the diversity of these crabs in Hong Kong,” the publisher said. “Furthermore, the mangroves that make for the habitat of the new species are under severe impact by both pollution and land reclamation, which underlines the urgent need for their conservation.”

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