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Stupefying Facts About Crabs

Neil Valentine D'Silva
Crabs are decapod crustaceans found in all the world's oceans, lakes, and on land as well. These rather strange creatures, known for their crooked gait, are not only used in cuisine, but are also worshiped in some parts of the world!
Crabs are a favored delicacy in some parts of the world, whereas elsewhere they are worshiped as deities.
Their appearance, combined with the peculiar gait makes them rather interesting animals. Learn more about this unique creature by reading these facts.

Morphological and Anatomical Facts

♦ Crabs actually have ten appendages (legs). Therefore, they are known as decapods (deca = ten, poda = leg). Out of these, the first pair of appendages are modified into claws, which are known as chelae.

♦ Crabs are crustaceans. Crustaceans are creatures that do not have an endoskeleton like most animals, but they have an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton of the crab is like a shield on its body, known as a carapace.
♦ Crabs are also arthropods. The Phylum Arthropoda includes animals that have segmented appendages, among other features. Insects like the cockroach, butterfly, housefly, mosquito, spider, etc. belong to this phylum.

♦ In crabs, the thorax and the abdomen are not separate as it is the case in most creatures of the world. They are instead joined together, which is termed as cephalothorax. But there are species in which this fusion does not take place, for example, the Raninoida.
♦ Male and female crabs can be identified externally by observing their abdomens. The male crabs have narrow abdomens, while the females are broader in this region.
♦ Their sizes can range from a small marble to that of several meters. The smallest known species is the Pea Crab, named for its size; while the largest is the famous Japanese Spider Crab that has a walking leg span of 3 to 4 m, and can expand to 8 m when outstretched.

Dietary Habits of crabs

Crabs are omnivorous; they are known to eat both plant as well as animals. Most vegetarian crabs subsist only on algae. But flesh-eating ones can eat other crustaceans, worms, and mollusks.

As Human Food

♦ Every year, millions of tons of crabs are consumed by humans all over the world.

♦ They make up for a fifth of all creatures that are caught from the water bodies of the world.
♦ The species of crab that is consumed the most is the Japanese Blue or the Horse Crab. It is consumed to the extent of 300,000 tons a year. It is native to the coast of China, but is found in other waters too.
♦ People who specialize in catching crabs from the rivers, seas, and oceans are known as crabbers.
♦ Crabbers use a cage-like device to capture these creatures. It is just like a cage with several places for the crabs to enter in, but no place to escape. The entrance is controlled by a one-way door.
♦ Crab meat is very high in vitamin B12 (cobalamin). It is said that just 2-3 ounces of the meat will provide you with a day's supply of the vitamin.

♦ Crabs are cooked in a variety of ways. The gourmet method of cooking them with their shell is best suited to a variety known as Blue Crabs.

Strange Crabs

♦ The Japanese Spider Crab (the biggest in the world) is also the oldest species. Its natural habitat is usually the deepest abyss of the Pacific. These creatures are known to live for a century and more.

♦ Hermit, King, Horseshoe, and Porcelain Crabs are not true crabs at all. They do not follow the basic qualifying law of having ten appendages.
♦ Some crabs look quite strange. Interesting ones are the Ghost Crab and the Halloween Crab.
The Ghost really looks like Casper the Ghost with bulging eyes (in fact, even its fore claws droop like a spooking ghost!), and the Halloween Crab's colors will instantly remind you of a Jack-O'-Lantern. There's also a Thumbnail Crab, which really looks like a human thumbnail.
♦ The Fiddler Crabs immediately captivate anyone's attention because of their single large claw on one side. They can even raise this single claw in an action that resembles a person waving. Fiddlers make for good household pets too.
♦ The most colorful species in the world is probably the Sally Lightfoot Crab. This creature has attractive colors of red, orange, yellow, and white.
♦ There's also the one that's mistaken for a spider for its long spindly legs, known as the Arrow Crab. In fact, some people need to count the number of legs to understand whether this one is a crab or a spider (spiders have eight legs).