Wild Fact #188 – Dropping Claws – Porcelain Crab

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Did You Know?

  • Although a female Porcelain Crab is less than an inch long they are capable of carrying over 1600 eggs on their body at any given time (she must hide them everywhere!)
  • The Porcelain Crab is able to drop a claw or a leg if they feel threatened – Don’t worry, it will grow back
  • The large claws of this crab are simply used to defend their territory and don’t typically play a role in catching lunch

Unique Evolution

In my opinion one of the most fascinating aspects of the Porcelain Crab is how they evolved. Okay, I understand that may sound like a weird thing to find fascinating but let me explain. The Porcelain Crab is the perfect example of a process called carcinisation. This fancy-named process occurs when a non-crab-like animal evolves into an animal that resembles a true crab. That’s right, the Porcelain Crab is not actually a “crab” as they are closely related to a creature known as the Squat Lobster (yes, this name makes me laugh as well).Porcelain Crab

Count the Legs

One of the easiest ways to distinguish today’s featured animal from a true crab is by counting the number of walking legs they have. I will save you the time of counting, the Porcelain Crab only has three pairs of walking legs whereas true crabs typically have four. Since we are discussing the appearance for the Porcelain Crab, I might as well tell you that these interesting creatures are only about 15 millimetres (0.6 inches) in length and usually have nice coloration. ┬áConsidering their small size, it must be awfully difficult to count their legs – now I bet you are happy that I counted them for you!

Stop, Drop and Roll

Sticking with their legs, these small appendages can play a large role in their defence strategy. Typically, the Porcelain Crab uses their small size to easily conceal themselves away from dangerous predators, however, if they find themselves caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place (i.e. a hungry predator) they are able to drop their claw or leg, which usually distracts their attacker long enough allowing them to scurry away. Luckily this appendage will regenerate over the next few days and the Porcelain Crab will carry on as if nothing happened. Okay, perhaps this little behaviour is the most fascinating aspect of this crab-like animal.

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