This Giant Crab Snack-Attacked a Seabird in Its Sleep and Carnage Ensued

Monday, 24 September 2018 - 12:21PM
Science Videos
Monday, 24 September 2018 - 12:21PM
This Giant Crab Snack-Attacked a Seabird in Its Sleep and Carnage Ensued
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Image credit: screengrab/YouTube

It's common in nature documentaries to see birds preying on cute, tiny animals like crabs and lizards on the beach because that's now the food chain works. What you rarely get to see is when much larger (and arguably less cute) versions of those animals get to exact their revenge and dare those birds to pick on someone their own size. According to Science Alert, biologist Mark Laidre captured footage of one of the world's largest land-dwelling arthropods - the coconut crab - grabbing a red-footed booby with its huge claws and waiting for it to die so it could eat it like a TV dinner. 

Coconut crabs get their name from the fact that their claws are big and strong enough to squeeze through the hard outer layer of the island fruit. With that kind of crushing power, you can imagine what it would do to the delicate body of a bird. According to Laidre, who was studying coconut crabs in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the crab grabbed its victim from a low tree branch where it was sleeping and proceeded to snap its wing so the seabird couldn't escape. What the video below doesn't show is that after about 20 minutes, more giant crabs showed up because of the smell of blood, and they fought over the injured (but still alive) bird's body. The scene of the crabs dragging the bird off in pieces to consume it was described as "pretty gruesome," so you can use your imagination.



Coconut crabs can't breathe underwater, which means that the ones on the islands where Laidre observed them are stuck there. The biologist found that the presence of the crabs on the islands has caused ground-nesting birds to go elsewhere. As for threat to humans, Laidre said we shouldn't worry about an invasive of vicious killers grabbing us in our sleep. "They're not belligerent," he said, "They're curious. They're not coming and jumping and trying to attack you." To continue his research, Lairdre wants to install camera traps around their habitats in the Chagos Archipelago. Based on this one encounter, we're not sure if that footage would be rated PG13 or a hard R.

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