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  • Date: January 31, 2013

Coconut crab (33 photos)

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Seeing this amazing animal, every nervous shudder of horror and surprise - because in the world there is no one more interesting and, at the same time, more terrible than a coconut crab. In any case, among arthropods - after all, he is rightly considered their largest representative.
Coconut crab

A coconut crab has many other "names": for example, a crab-thief or a palm-thief - this is a strange animal and really steals its prey. Travelers of the past centuries, who visited the islands spread in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, say that coconut crab is hidden from prying eyes in the thick green of palm trees in order to suddenly grab its prey, lying directly under the tree or nearby From him.
Coconut crab

Coconut crab (lat. Birgus latro) is actually not a crab, despite the striking resemblance to the arthropod relative mentioned in the name. It is a land hermit crab belonging to a decapod-looking crayfish species.
Strictly speaking, a palm animal can also be called a land animal with a stretch, as part of his life passes in the sea, and even into the world tiny crustaceans appear in the water column. Newborn babies with a defenseless, soft abdominal cavity are busily crawling along the bottom of the reservoir in search of a reliable house, which can serve as a nutshell and an empty mollusk shell.
Coconut crab

In the “childhood” birgus latro is not too different from the hermit crab: he carries his shell with him and spends most of the time in the water. But once he came out of the larval state and left the water, he was no longer able to return there, and at some point he would have to carry a shell behind him. Unlike the abdomen of hermit crabs, its abdomen is not the Achilles' heel and gradually hardens, and the tail coagulates under the body, protecting the body from cuts. Thanks to a special light, he begins to breathe out of the water.
To tell the truth, in most legends this particular feature was noted - the first Europeans who arrived on the islands described coconut crabs as creatures with long claws hiding in the foliage of trees, which unexpectedly stretched to the ground and captured prey, even sheep and goats.Scientists have confirmed that birgus latro has great strength and can lift up to 30 kg of weight. However, they found out that the crab uses its abilities to drag cargo from place to place, preferring to eat dead animals, crabs and fallen fruits.
Coconut crab

What makes the crayfish equally comfortable to exist both in water and on land? It turns out that the wise nature provided them with two instruments of breathing at once: lungs, ventilated air on the surface of the earth, and gills, allowing to breathe under water. But with time, the second organ loses its functions, and palm thieves have to completely switch to a land-based lifestyle.
Coconut crab

Those who wish to meet such a miracle would have to go to the tropics - coconut crabs are found on the islands of the Indian Ocean and on some of the western Pacific islands. Seeing them in daylight is not easy: palm thieves are nocturnal, and in sunny time they hide in crevices of rocks or in sand minks lined with coconut fibers - this helps to maintain the required level of humidity in the dwelling.
Coconut crab

And at least the version thatthat with its front claws, the cancer is able to split a coconut, failed miserably, its limbs, nevertheless, are sufficiently developed to quickly climb the palm trunk or bite off a finger phalanx. And to coconuts, cancer is really not indifferent: the nutritional pulp is the main dish in its menu, to which it owes its “coconut” name.
Coconut crab

Sometimes the diet of crayfish is enriched with pandan fruits, and according to some sources, palm thieves happen to eat their own kind. A hungry cancer unerringly finds the nearest “restaurant”: the inner navigator is an excellent sense of smell, which takes him to a source of food, even if it is located for many kilometers.
Coconut crab

As for the “thieves' status” of a cancer, this is to blame for his irrepressible desire to pull into his burrow all sorts of things from the category of the one that lies badly - edible and not very good.
Coconut crab meat is not only listed among the delicacies, but also belongs to aphrodisiacs, so these arthropods are actively hunted. In order to prevent their complete extinction, in some countries there are strict restrictions on the capture of coconut crabs.
Coconut crab

The body of a coconut crab, like in all decapods, is divided into an anterior part (cephalothorax), on which there are 10 legs, and a stomach. The front, the largest pair of legs has large claws (claws), and the left claw is much larger than the right one. The next two pairs, like those of other hermits, large, powerful with sharp ends, are used by coconut crabs to travel on vertical or inclined surfaces. The fourth pair of legs is significantly smaller than the first three, which allows young coconut crabs to settle in mollusk shells or coconut shells, to protect. Adults use this pair for walking and mountaineering. The latter, a very small pair, which usually hides inside the shell, is used by females to care for the eggs, and by males for mating.
Coconut crab

With the exception of the larva stage, coconut crabs cannot swim, and they will certainly drown if they stay in the water for more than an hour. For breathing, they use a special organ called the gill lungs. This organ can be interpreted as a developmental stage between the gills and lungs, and is one of the most important adaptations of coconut crab to its habitat.Gill lungs contain tissues similar to those found in the gills, but suitable for absorbing oxygen from the air, not from water.
Coconut crab

The coconut crab has a well-developed sense of smell, which he uses to search for food. Like most crabs living in the water, they have specialized organs located on the antennae, which determine the concentration and direction of the smell.
Coconut crab

During the day, these arthropods sit in burrows or rocky crevices that line with coconut fibers or foliage to increase the humidity in the home. While resting in its hole, the coconut crab closes the entrance with one claw to keep the humid microclimate in the hole, which is necessary for its respiratory organs.
Coconut crab

As the name suggests, this crab feeds on coconuts, and is actually able to climb a coconut palm, to a height of 6 meters, where coconuts, if not yet available on the ground, pinch with powerful claws. If a fallen coconut does not break when it falls, a crab will gut it for a week or two, until it reaches the juicy flesh of the nut. If this dreary job bothers a crab, he picks up a coconut on a tree and throws it down in order to facilitate his work.Descending back to the ground, they sometimes fall, but without damage to health they can suffer a fall from a height of 4, 5 meters. Coconut crab will not refuse from other fruits, newborn turtles and carrion. They were also seen catching and eating Polynesian rats.
Coconut crab

Another name is palm thief, he got for the love of everything brilliant. If a spoon, fork, or other shiny object falls on the path of the crab, you can be sure that it will certainly try to drag it to its burrow.
Coconut crab

From the beginning of June to the end of August the breeding season begins for palm thieves. The process of courtship lasts a long and tedious, but the pairing itself happens pretty quickly. The female carries fertilized eggs for several months on the underside of the abdomen. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the female descends to the seashore at high tide and releases the larvae into the water. Over the next three to four weeks, the larvae swimming in the water go through several stages of development. After 25 - 30 days, already small crabs sink to the bottom, settle in the shells of gastropods, and prepare to migrate to the ground. At this time, babies sometimes visit land, and gradually losing the opportunity to breathe under water, they finally move to the main habitat.Coconut crabs reach sexual maturity approximately five years after hatching, but reach their maximum size only by age 40.
Coconut crab

Palm thieves inhabit the tropics on the islands of the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean has the largest population density of coconut crabs in the world.
Coconut crab

Swedish and Australian scientists have confirmed the veracity of all the stories about coconut crabs. For example, Pacific Islanders claimed that those over several kilometers could smell, for example, meat or ripe fruit. And indeed, special lures, planted by researchers, immediately attracted the attention of thieves crabs, who nevertheless disdained ordinary pieces of bread, which are common crabs.
Coconut crab

The caretaker's function is, of course, not bad and useful, however, since the birgus latro is a mostly night-time and not very friendly creature, having stumbled upon it, the locals have no particular enthusiasm. The decrease in its number forced the local authorities to set a limit on catching birgus latro. On Papua New Guinea, it is forbidden to include it in restaurant menus, on Saipan island, to catch crabs with a shell less than 3.5 cm, and also from June to September, during the breeding season.
Coconut crab

On the inner surface of the walls of the gill cavities of this land descendant of hermit crabs, form-shaped skin folds develop, in which numerous blood vessels branch out. These are the real lungs that allow the use of oxygen filling the air in the gill cavities. The lungs are ventilated due to the movements of scaphognathite, as well as due to the ability of animals to raise and lower the carapace from time to time, for which special muscles serve.
It is remarkable that at the same time the gills are also preserved, although of relatively small size. Removal of the gills did not harm breathing at all; on the other hand, cancer has completely lost the ability to breathe in water. A palm-thief submerged in water died after 4 hours. Residual gills, apparently, do not function. A palm thief digs up shallow burrows in the soil, which is lined with coconut fiber. Charles Darwin says that the natives on some islands choose from the holes of a palm thief these fibers, which they need in their wise economy. Sometimes a palm thief is content with natural refuges - crevices in rocks, cavities in drained coral reefs,but even in such cases, it uses plant material for their lining, which retains high humidity in the dwelling.

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