Dinochelus ausubeli is a new species of deepwater lobster (family Nephropidae) first collected in 2007 from the Philippine Sea off the island of Luzon and was formally described in 2010. The species is so distinct that it was not only described as a new species but placed in a newly erected genus as well (Dinochelus). "Dinochelus" is derived from the Greek dinos, meaning "terrible", and chela, meaning "claw", an allusion to the massive, spinose major claw. The specific epithet ausubeli honors Jesse Ausubel, an enthusiastic sponsor of the Census of Marine Life, a major effort to document marine life in the first decade of the 21st century. (Ahyong et al. 2010)
The eyes of Dinochelus ausubeli are well developed and movable, with a cornea present. The surfaces and margins of pleura 2 to 5 have laterally minute granules or spinules. Major and minor pereopod 1 palms have numerous spinules; occlusal margins of the pollex and dactylus bear 2 divergent rows of spines. Fingers of the pereopod 1 minor chela are 3 times as long as the palm. The uropodal exopod proximal segment has a spinose outer margin; the width of the distal segment is greater than half the width of the proximal segment. (Ahyong et al. 2010) For a more detailed technical description refer to Ahyong et al. (2010).
Species of Dinochelus, Thaumastocheles, and Thaumastochelopsis are superficially very similar, and apart from eye, uropod, and maxilliped form, differ most prominently in major cheliped armature. Specimens collected by trawl or dredge are very often damaged, but even in the case of incomplete specimens, or where only a major cheliped is collected, D. ausubeli is nevertheless identifiable. Of the known thaumastocheliform nephropids, the first chelipeds of D. ausubeli are most similar to those of Thaumastocheles zaleucus (from the Caribbean Sea), but those of D. ausubeli have distinctly spinose palms (versus at most a few scattered spinules) and the fingers of the minor pereopod 1 are proportionally longer, being three times (versus less than twice) the palm length. The cheliped armature of other species of Thaumastocheles and Thaumastochelopsis includes a single row of either upright spines or low, triangular serrations rather than the two divergent rows of slender spines on the occlusal margins of the fingers seen in D. ausubeli. (Ahyong et al. 2010)
Dinochelus ausubeli is a small lobster with long, slender spiny claws. The left and right claws are strongly dimorphic in size. Body color in life is translucent white overall (including the cornea), with the central third diffusely reddish-pink. The abdominal somites and tailfan have diffuse reddish-pink patches and blotches. Antennular flagella, antennal flagella, and pereopod 1 chelae are reddish-pink. Pereopods 2 to 5 are white. (Ahyong et al. 2010)
Dinochelus ausubeli is currently known only from the type locality in the Philippine Sea off the island of Luzon (Ahyong et al. 2010).
Evolution and Systematics
Systematics and Taxonomy
Dinochelus is most closely related to Thaumastocheles and Thaumastochelopsis, sharing the distinctive strongly dimorphic first pereopods in which the major chela has a short bulbous palm and long, slender spinous fingers, as well as a mixture of other features of both genera. (Ahyong et al. 2010)