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L. tessellata is a small crab growing to a width of about 2.5 cm (1 in). The carapace is trapezoid in shape and the margin has a distinct tooth-shaped projection on either side, just behind the short-stalked eye. The surface of the carapace is marked into several differently coloured, geometric regions by a network of dark lines giving it the appearance of stained glass. The chelipeds do not have the broad chelae (claws) typical of decapod crabs. Instead they are slim and each has a fine finger bearing eight or nine spines. The front pair of walking legs is smaller than the other three pairs but all are much larger than the chelipeds. The legs are banded with dark transverse lines, speckled with white spots and clad in sparse, short hairs. The claws at their ends are long and thin. The red eggs of Lybia tessellata are carried around on the female's abdomen where they are brooded.
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