Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Creature Feature #116: Coconut Crab

This freakish fellow is the largest land invertebrate in the world. His body can grow up to 40cm long, with the limbs extending him to 1m. A member of the Hermit Crab Family, when he is young he lives in empty gastropod shells, but as he matures he forms his own hard exoskeleton. He can be found on islands across the Indian Ocean, but on those with a large human population he has been extirpated (become locally extinct). This is, obviously, because a crab this big is going to find favour on the dinner table. He can climb trees and his claws are strong enough to crack coconuts, but coconuts do not form the major part of his diet. He prefers softer fruit, carrion and smaller crabs. They are likely responsible for the disappearance of many a shipwrecker-then-deceased sailor.  They will drown, which is a bit of an issue because they are still dependent on the ocean for reproduction. The eggs hatch into larvae where they grow through several stages. After about a month they find themselves a nice gastropod shell to wear and come ashore with other hermit crabs to begin their landlubber's life.

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