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Giant coconut crabs feed on birds (2017) (newscientist.com)
126 points by funkylexoo 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

Not only can that monstrous crab eat birds; it can crack coconuts open with its claws.

That's why it's called the "coconut" crab.

I wonder if it's ever attacked human beings -- you know, like people napping at the beach.

Nature never ceases to amaze me.

PS. If you enjoy reading about "odd" creatures, check out "WTF, evolution?" at https://wtfevolution.tumblr.com/

I've never read about them attacking people, but they will go after small pets and rummage through your trashcan. The biggest danger to humans is having one fall on you. They climb coconut trees to get to the coconuts, but being a little clumsy, fall out of the tree sometimes.



Does this kill the crab?

I would think it depends on how far it fell, but they can climb to the top of coconut palm.


One of coworkers was pinched by a young, 1.5 cm long coconut crab still in a scavenged snail shell when we were at the beach in Kwajalean. But I know that's not what you meant.

Has anyone seen the whole video?

To clarify/calm down my paranoid mind of a staged crab attack to a bird whose wing was broken earlier possibly by humans and so that we have full proof beyond social media cuts. ?

ps: red footed boobies don't seem to avoid those islands: https://www.livingoceansfoundation.org/seabirds-chagos-islan...

IIRC, the full video (or a different one showing a crab killing a Booby - I can't find it at the moment) first shows the crab climbing a tree, approaching a sleeping bird, and breaking one of its wings. The bird falls out of the tree, and the crab climbs down the tree to attack the bird again on the ground.

This behavior might be seen as an extension of how they go after coconuts and other fruit.


The crabs are nocturnal the birds are not! The footage shows it was in the night

That video looked like something straight out of a low budget horror film, poor bird.

As creepy as it may be, coconut crabs "hunting" in this manner--let alone being caught on film--is truly rare. I grew up hunting them with my brother as a kid, crawling along cliffs where they can often be found hiding, and in the jungle near beaches. They truly are an exotic delicacy (fruit bat and sea turtle are the only other things I've tried that come close on the exotic scale, the former being prepared in a similar manner)...which also means they don't live long lives outside of wildlife reserves due to being overhunted by indigenous peoples.

Are they tasty?

Indeed, unlike anything I've ever tasted.

Found this amateur video[1] on YouTube which documents hunting, preparation, and the final dish by Chamorros from Guam. In contrast to typical crabs, the abuni (pronounced ah-boo-nee; rear end of crab body) is arguably the most desirable and flavorful part. This video[2] demonstrates simple preparation by a Japanese cook; I've highlighted the abuni part, which tastes absolutely amazing despite appearances.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mWZK1GEZis

[2] https://youtu.be/ir-7x3NWpl4?t=929

So what was the outcome of the follow-up study?

The outcome is that coconut crabs are creepy as all get out.

No they are cute

They are rather tasty though.

I want to eat one, where can I go to eat one?

Also, pelicans will eat whole pigeons if given the chance.

I find spiders quite freaky, yet I find crabs quite endearing. This strikes me as very odd.

ps. Ive been actively trying to overcome my aversion to spiders by handling them when I put them out. Starting with very tiny ones and working my way up.

Aversion to spiders more likely to save your life and allow you to pass on genes, makes sense.

Not necessarily. If you live in an area with spiders, you probably also have mosquitoes and all kinds of other insect disease vectors. Having a nice spider would go a long ways to keeping those vectors down.

Interesting point - avoiding spiders is better for me individually, but reducing mosquitoes is better globally. So I guess it depends if our aversions are optimized for the individual or the species.

Tiny jumping spiders were the worst for me growing up. Nowadays don't mind them, don't live in an area with anything venomous so no rational fear

These days when I look at a jumping spider, I can't help but see this little guy: https://youtu.be/VrS6akzR3sk

Genji 2 is an action game which is based on Japanese history. The um, stages of the game will also be based on famous battles which took- actually took place in ancient Japan.

So here's this giant enemy crab.

I really wanted to reply to this with 'RIIIIIDGE RACER' but I know such things are discouraged on HN.

Pretty amazing that the crab is smart enough to go for the wings first.

It's very unlikely that "smart" is involved here. I suspect the wing breaking is simply the likely end result of many possible interactions of a crab (tank with crushing claws) and a bird (lightweight and easily crushable) in a tree. Being without two useful wings is not a situation that any bird wants to be in.

What's the first thing you grab when taking on a crab?

Like a headcrab from Half-Life :)

I saw this posted on Reddit and Facebook a while back and I can't really stand this whole "NOPE NOPE NOPE" culture we have where everything is judged by how icky it is.

And the top comments fight over who has the least tolerance for it.

I think it's a symptom of the broader topic of anti-intellectualism in our culture where reactions are more important than intrigue and exploration.

A video of a crab eating a bird might seem like a weird tipping point to have this moment but it's a video that I happened to see in four different places where the top comments were all the same mix of "well I'm never going near crabs again lol" and "nuke it from orbit lol" and "wish I hadn't seen this lol" and "I'll be sure to do my part to eat more crabs lol."

those are pretty much tongue and cheek. how often is anyone near a crab that's not in captivity or that you're about to eat?

> those are pretty much tongue and cheek.

I believe the expression you are looking for is “tongue-in-cheek”.


That creature is kinda cute in its own grim way.

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