Abominable Snow Crab
(image via: The Why Files)
The Yeti Crab (Kiwa hirsuta) isn’t so much abominable as it is adorable… just imagine being hugged by those fluffy golden claws! Well, maybe not so much if you’re this crab’s prey, which would actually be the only reason its claws would be around you. Good thing the Yeti Crab is only 15 cm (5.9 in) long.
Discovered 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) deep in the Pacific ocean south of Easter Island, the Yeti Crab is one of the most recent species to be described: it was first noted in March 2005. Living at such great depths and in close proximity to seafloor hydrothermal vents, Yeti Crabs are thought to be blind and their dense “fur” may aid them in detoxifying poisonous chemicals and minerals in the surrounding water. On a lighter note, they’ve also inspired a number of awesome Halloween costumes.
Return of the Fallen Warriors
In the year 1185, a huge sea battle between Japan’s warring Heike and Genji clans resulted in a catastrophic defeat for the Heike, hundreds of whom drowned in the rough seas of the Shimonoseki Strait. Some time afterward, local fisherman noted that many of the Heikegani crabs (Heikeopsis japonica) they were catching appeared to bear the faces of angry samurai warriors on their carapaces. Rumors spread that these crabs embodied the spirits of the drowned Heike warriors and the fishermen would tend to throw the most “face-like” crabs back into the sea. As related by Carl Sagan in his book Cosmos, over time the crabs caught in the area displayed more prominent faces on their shells due to the habits of the suspicious fishermen over nearly ten centuries. Sagan stated the phenomenon was a prime example of artificial selection or human-influenced evolution.
Coconut Crabs (Birgus latro) can weigh up to 9 pounds, measure more than 3 feet wide from claw to claw, and are estimated to live as long as 60 years. Native to the islands of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, these monstrous crabs prefer to eat fruits, nuts and seeds over coconuts and will gladly eat meat if they can scavenge some. Curiously, these land crabs can neither swim nor survive in water though females must release their eggs directly into the ocean.
(image via: Arthropoda)
Coconut Crabs are the worlds largest terrestrial arthropods and thanks to the Internet they’ve acquired a larger-than-life reputation… we’re specifically referring to the ubiquitous and now-legendary image of one clinging to and about to open a trash can. While the photo is NOT a photoshop creation, experts have suggested the trash can itself is smaller than the typical ones left outside residential homes and apartments.