Hermits

So, it turns out that hermit crabs might have been responsible for the disappearance of Amelia Earhart:

Nikumaroro is home to a colony of coconut hermit crabs: the world’s largest land crab, so called because of its ability to crack open a coconut, manoeuvring a claw into one of the nut’s three eyeholes and prying it open. The oldest live to more than a hundred, and grow to be wider than three feet across: too large to fit in a bathtub, exactly the right size for a nightmare. In 2007, researchers decided to test the Earhart theory. The carcass of a small pig was offered to the crabs on the island, to see what they might have done to Earhart’s dead or dying body. Following their remarkable sense of smell, they found the pig and tore it apart, making off with its bones to their burrows under the roots of the trees. Their strength is monumental: their claw grip can produce up to 3300 newtons of force (the bite force of a tiger is 1500 newtons). Darwin called them ‘monstrous’: he meant it as a compliment.

I’m not sure that Amelia Earhart would have had kind thoughts about hermit crabs, but then hopefully she was past caring about such things when the moment came. From most angles they’re simply amazing, and surprisingly sociable creatures. A housing chain consisting of hermit crabs, each of them looking to move up the housing ladder as a vacancy arises, is quite a sight to see.

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