COCONUT CRAB

Coconut (or Robber) Crab, a crustacean found on islands of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is not considered a true crab because its abdomen is soft and unsegmented. The coconut crab lives underground during the day, often taking over the burrow of a land crab. (This accounts for the name “robber crab.”) It feeds at night on fruit, especially coconuts. It is a skillful climber and will scale coconut trees 60 feet (18 m) high. The heavy, sharp claws are used to tear off the coconut husk and puncture a hole in the nut. It extracts the meat with its smaller pincers.

The coconut crab has gills but they are modified to function as lungs. It spawns in the ocean and the young pass through their larval stage there. During the postlarval stage, the young inhabit abandoned shells.

The coconut crab is Birgus latro of the family Coenobitidae.

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