Coconut Crab Facts:
- Scientific name - Birgus latro
- Other names - robber crab, palm thief, terrestrial hermit crab.
- Island local names - unga or kaveu in the Cook Islands, ayuyu in the Marianas.
- Largest land-living anthropod in the world.
- They are the only species of the genus Birgus.
- They can live more than 30 years.
- 4 body regions: cephalic lobe, forepart, trunk, & opisthosoma.
- Body length - up to 40 cm.
- Weight - up to 4.1 kg (9.0 lb).
- Leg span - > 0.91 m (3.0 ft).
- Males bigger than females.
- Crabs use a special organ called a branchiostegal lung to breathe; they will drown in water.
- Also have an additional rudimentary set of gills.
- Famous for being able to crack open a coconut with its great pincers.
- Inhabits the coastal forest regions of many Indo-Pacific islands.
- Mostly nocturnal crabs, remaining hidden during the day.
- Highly apomorphic hermit crab.
- Live alone in underground burrows and rock crevices.
- The burrows contain fibers of the coconut husk which it uses as bedding.
- Coconut crabs mate on dry land.
- Female crab lays her eggs & glues them to the underside of her abdomen.
- These fertilized eggs are carried underneath for several months.
- When hatching time approaches she releases the eggs into the ocean at high tide.
- The hatched crab larvae float in the pelagic zone of the ocean with the other plankton.
- Once the larvae reach the glaucothoe stage of development, they settle to the ocean bottom, find and then wear a 'house' shell, and start migrating to the shoreline.
- As they grow, the crabs change their shell like other hermit crabs.
- They eventually leave the ocean for good & lose the ability to breathe in water.
- Live in areas from the Indian to the central Pacific Ocean.
- Christmas Island has the largest population in the world.
- Found on the Seychelles, i.e. Aldabra, the Glorioso Islands, Astove Island, Assumption Island and Cosmoledo.
- Inhabit several of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
- Populations also on Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territories, BIOT).
- The Cook Islands, especially Pukapuka, Suwarrow, Mangaia, Takutea, Mauke, Atiu, & Palmerston Island have large populations.
- The Line Islands of Kiribati also have coconut crabs, esp. on Teraina (Washington Island) & Caroline Island.
- Suggested that legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart's body was devoured by coconut crabs on an island called Nikumaroro.
- "If Amelia died on Nikumaroro, her body was eaten by crabs. That's pretty much a given,” Richard Gillespie (TIGHAR).
Image Credit - by Drew Avery (cc)
Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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