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June 04, 2007

Freshwater crabs live under Roman ruins

Genetic tests suggest that a variety of freshwater crabs found thriving under Roman ruins was probably introduced by the ancient Greeks approximately 3000 years ago:

But for all its success, Potamon fluviatile has kept a low profile in Rome, revealing its existence only a decade ago.

It was in 1997 that Scalici and another zoology student happened on a specimen minding its own business under a stone in Trajan's amphitheatre, part of the largest of Rome's imperial forums, built in 113 at the territorial height of the Roman Empire.

Intrigued, a small group of researchers from the University of Rome III went to work studying the only known colony of freshwater crabs living amid the noise, pollution and humans of a large city.

"We think there are about 1,000 of them, but it's hard to say because we can't mark their shells, given that they shed regularly," Scalici said.

The researchers are considering fitting specimens with microchips under their shells, but they are expensive, he added. [AFP]

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they also have aquaducks.

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