Coconut Crab | Egad!
I’d give payday loans to keep these things away!
Occasionally, if you watch Google Trends, people search for things that are sort of interesting, like zoology – which is a form of knowledge. (You don’t see it often – most of the time Trends searches are about some less than intelligent event concerning so called “celebrities.”) The earth is full of interesting creatures, and one that I personally don’t want to see unless on a plate is the coconut crab. Not that I have anything against them, or want them exterminated, but a lot of people would like to keep them at arms length or further away. The body length is up to 16 in, and a leg span of almost 3 feet. Oh, and these boys live only on land. Oh, did we mention they like to come inside?
Why are they called coconut crabs?
They are called coconut crabs because they are known to pick a coconut from a tree, and crack it open with their claws. (Imagine what that will do to a person – and the fact that the average human bone will break with 16 psi of pressure.) They are one of the few animals that eat coconuts by tearing holes in a coconut and removing the flesh within. They are also called robber crabs, palm thieves, and terrestrial hermit crabs, and are the largest of the land dwelling crabs, as they cannot swim. They are members of the hermit crab family.
What’s really interesting about them
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about them, at least to us who waste enough time finding about these sort of things when maybe we should be looking up credit repair, is that they have what’s known as a branchiostegal lung. (More on it at Wikipedia.) A branchiostegal lung is a type of lung which is halfway between a gill and the lungs that we and other animals breathe with, though the coconut crab can’t live in water. (They’ll drown.) As water is passed through gills, it goes over tissues which extract oxygen. Lungs, by contrast, inflate with air, and the oxygen is extracted from it by lung tissues. Branchiostegal lungs are essentially gills that only work out of the water – kind of cool, isn’t it?
I don’t know if they make good pets…I would doubt it
You might be tempted to think of getting one as a pet, but in most places the coconut crab makes it’s home – which ranges all over the South Pacific into the Indian Ocean – it’s considered a delicacy. It’s a large arthropod, that weighs up to 10 pounds – that’s a lot of meat! A veritable chicken of the beach. They aren’t considered mortally dangerous, but you probably don’t want your kids playing around them. If this thing can pry off the top of a coconut, a kid’s pusillanimous little arm would be no problem. However, the only time you’d be likely to see one in the states is either in an exhibit, or handing over a cash advance for a dinner of one.