Better known as Birgus latro, lives in the Indian and Pacific ocean. Why am I mentioning this? Well, you come across an incredible amount of interesting, but completely unrelated information when you are searching for articles on Wikipedia, and this is one of them. Before Christmas a friend and I were writing a report on the effects of introduced species on biodiversity in New Zealand. And when reading articles from a completely different part of the world, you never know the latin names of all the plants and animals. And here, wikipedia is an excellent tool. Especially English wikipedia. Just write the latin (scientific) name in the search box and up comes all the information you need. Where it is placed taxonomically, where it lives, it’s ecology and everything else.
So when we were wikipediing (can you make a verb of wikipedia, as you do with google?) scientific names to understand the content of the articles we were reading, we stumbled upon (have you seen stumbleupon.com btw?) this article about the coconut crab. Why I still have this saved as a tab i Safari? Because it is hilarious!
Ok, it is a crab. Crabs have exoskeletons (just like lobsters and beetles) and breathe through their skin. This is not very unusual. But as they are quite rudimental creatures and don’t really have blood vessels to speak of or anything, it is believed that there is a limit to how big they can be. We believe this is the reason why there are no monster sized insects around.
However, this crab car a body size of up to 40 cm, and a leg span of almost 1 m (some speciemens up to 2 m). It usually weighs about 4 kg. And it can climb trees. It can open coconuts with its front legs. It lives in a shell as a juvenile, but discards this later. They have also developed a “nose” to smell in air (as most crabs only can smell in water). The coconut crab mostly eats fleshy fruits and nuts, but they have even been seen to eat rats.
While reading the article on wikipedia I pictured myself on holiday on a tiny island in the pacific, walking on the beach, and suddenly spotting a giant crab climbing a tree. Like a monkey. It’s like a cross between a pig and a monkey. Only it is a crab. Ah, me wants to see it! (It can also be eaten, and it is quite common as food where is occurs). I definitely have to go back to the Pacific.