Episode 273 – Spider Decorator Crab: Master of Disguise

“…and today we’re talking about a crustacean that appears as if it comes pre-deep fried. But more on that later.”

The true master of disguise is able to use their environment to their advantage. Just like a cold war era Russian spy, you want to blend in with the locals if you want to avoid suspicion. The spider decorator crab always tries to keep up with the joneses when it rolls up to a new neighborhood. When there are a lot of hungry fish in the sea, it helps to blend in with the everyman and be a Krusty Krab like the best of them here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Spider Decorator Crab

The spider crab is shaped kind of like a spider in that their bodies are small and round while set at the center of long splayed out legs.

They look deep fried in color and shape. They come in grey, tan, brown, reddish brown, and a variety of other colors. More on that later.

They’re shells are tear dropped shaped.

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We do have a new Measure Up intro from Melissa!

Shell size

  • 3 cm
  • How many crab shells go into the width of the world’s largest kidney stone at its widest diameter?
  • Hint: Kidney stones are formed from chemicals in urine and form in the kidney. The largest one ever occurred in India in 2004. When they reach a certain size, they cannot be passed and may cause dangerous blockages. They can be broken up shockwaves, but very big ones need to be removed. This particular one obviously needed to be removed in surgery.
  • 4.3 crabs. The stone was 13 cm (5.11 in).

Leg Length

  • 10 cm
  • How many crab legs go into the distance between the sun and Beta Cancri
  • Hint: Beta Cancri is the brightest star in the cancer constellation. It is 50 times larger than the sun.
  • 27 quintillion crab legs. The star is 290 light-years away.

Fast Facts about the Spider Decorator Crab

The velcro crab lives in the tropical waters of the Pacific ocean and throughout the waters of Oceania. They go as far west as the coast of Africa and the Red Sea.

They enjoy coral reefs, rubble, and seagrass.

They eat small creatures, dead organisms, and decaying ocean debris.

Major Fact: Master of Disguise

  • We’ve talked about the boxing crab, but what if you’re a lover, not a fighter?
  • What if you want to Peeta Mellark your way through this hunger game called life at the bottom of the sea
  • We’ve also talked about many different types of camouflage
    • Some animals just passively look like things in their environment – stick bug
    • Some actively change their colors – mimic octopus
    • Some act like what they’re trying to emulate – mimic octopus
    • But some decide to bring their disguise with them
  • Decorator crabs have a tendency to play dress up using whatever they find lying around
  • What better way to blend into the environment than sticking the environment to your carapace?
  • Specifically, they try and blend in with the local populace
    • If everyone in the neighborhood is wearing shells, you wear shells
    • If everyone’s wearing feather stars, you wear feather stars
    • If everyone’s wearing hydrozoans, you wear socks and crocs – it’s just good fashion sense
  • In fact, they don’t just nestle in some seaweed or coral, they will pick it up and actively rub it on their shells until it sticks. Some seaweeds have velcro-like strands that naturally cling to carapaces.
    • They’ll also use anemones like the boxing crab does, but just as passive defence rather than a boxing gloves fit for a war criminal
  • They also supplement their disguises with spending a lot of time remaining completely still and also freezing when predators are around.
  • If they change locations or are cleaned, they’ll immediately start adorning themselves with the local drip.

Ending: So follow the latest fashion trends, blend in with the neighbors, and cover your chitinous carapace in whatever junk you can find here in LDT.