Coconut Crab

The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is a species of terrestrial hermit crab, also known as the robber crab or palm thief. It is the largest land-living arthropod in the world, and is probably at the upper size limit of terrestrial animals with exoskeletons in recent Earth atmosphere at a weight of up to 4.1 kg (9.0 lb). It is found on islands across the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean as far east as the Gambier Islands, mirroring the distribution of the coconut palm; it has been extirpated from most areas with a significant human population, including mainland Australia and Madagascar.

The coconut crab is the only species of the genus Birgus, and is related to the terrestrial hermit crabs of the genus Coenobita. It shows a number of adaptations to life on land. Like hermit crabs, juvenile coconut crabs use empty gastropod shells for protection, but the adults develop a tough exoskeleton on their abdomen and stop carrying a shell. Coconut crabs have evolved organs known as "branchiostegal lungs", which are used instead of the vestigial gills for breathing. They cannot swim, and will drown if immersed in water for long. They have developed an acute sense of smell, which has evolved convergently with that of insects, and which they use to find potential food sources. Mating occurs on dry land, but the females migrate to the sea to release their fertilised eggs as they hatch. The larvae are planktonic for 3–4 weeks, before settling to the sea floor and entering a gastropod shell. Sexual maturity is reached after about 5 years, and the total lifespan may be over 60 years.

Adult coconut crabs feed on fruits, nuts, seeds, and the pith of fallen trees, but will eat carrion and other organic matter opportunistically. The species is popularly associated with the coconut, and has been widely reported to climb trees to pick coconuts, which it then opens to eat the flesh. While coconut crabs can climb trees, and can eventually open a coconut collectively, coconuts are not a significant part of their diet. Coconut crabs are hunted wherever they come into contact with people, and are subject to legal protection in some areas. In the absence of precise information, the IUCN lists the species as Data Deficient.

Read more about Coconut Crab:  Description, Distribution, Conservation, Names

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Coconut Crab - Names
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... The island was planted with coconut palms in the 1910s, but today Cocos trees occupy only about 20% of the island's forest, with the remaining 80% Pisonia groves ... Lone Palm Islet 20,000 m² A distinctive long coconut palm rising out of a grove of Tournefortia, observed during the 1988 survey, gave this islet its name ... Scarlet Crab Islet 5,000 m² Named for the scarlet hermit crab abundant on its shores, Scarlet Crab is a young and small islet, measuring 40 m north-south and ...

Famous quotes containing the word crab:

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