No, that last photo’s not manipulated.
No, that’s not a tiny garbage can.
This is the coconut crab (Birgus latro), and you have our current oxygen levels to thank for it not being even bigger. Like, seriously, you guys, this motherfucker maxes out the dimensions attainable by a terrestrial animal with an exoskeleton. It’s ten pounds and can get up to three feet from tip to tip. Aaaaaaand it eats meat.
Above: Coconut crabs’ preferred diet.
Richard Gillespie, executive director of some organization, thinks they ate Amelia Earhart.* (No, really.)
They’re actually primarily vegetarian, and most of the meat they do consume is from the corpses of the dead, but they’re on record as being perfectly willing and able to hunt and kill small animals. They take their name from the fact that they eat coconuts, hang out in coconut palms, are roughly the size of a coconut, and will just let go when they’re up a tree and don’t feel like climbing down. They’ve also been observed hauling coconuts back up trees and dropping them again to crack the shell faster.
They don’t need to drop it to crack it; they’re quite capable of opening coconuts with just their claws. But, you know. Coconut crabs were essentially born with only one fuck to give, and they need that for breeding.
I mean, just look at them. Look at them! They stop needing shells to hide in once they hit adulthood, at which point in time they start being able to just hurl themselves out of trees because they’re lazy. They don’t have gills. They will straight up drown if they spend too long in the water. But that’s exactly where they have to go to drop off their spawn, which is a shame on account of the whole “no breathing under water” thing and also the “they can’t swim” thing. Seriously, guys. It’s a crab that can’t swim.
They spend the first month of their life as planktonic larvae, which means they spread pretty easily from island to island, but once they leave the water, that’s it. Done. Game over, unless they want to spend the rest of their lives constructing little crab rafts. Which I guess they do have time for, if they want, because they can live over 50 years.
Yes, that’s right. These motherfuckers can live as long as a goddamned parrot. Which kind of comes in handy, because molting, which they do every year, takes about two months. Since this isn’t really time a crab wants to spend hanging around waiting to get eaten while their shells harden (they eat each other with a quickness, like most crabs), they dig long-ass burrows, line them with coconut fiber, and hide in them until they’re good to go.
*This is what people in the greater human society call “something of a reach.”
This is amazing.
Mike Doughty, performing as Dubious Luxury, does a dance remix of:
- The Star Trek fight music from Amok Time
- The Mos Eisley Cantina Band
- Queen’s Flash Gordon Theme.
It is real, and it is spectacular.
20 years ago today my house burned down, so I wrote a comic about it.
Holy shit that’s a cool and terrifying story. Also, having read through the newspaper article at the end, I am looking forward to the Oatmeal comic about having a mother who was an internationally recognized “teddy bear artist.”
Bolding is mine. I thought the same thing. I was like, “Hey, way to bury the lede, Matt.”
Mars’ surface (via mars.jpl.nasa.gov)
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