Featured Image Credit: Yisrael Schnytzer
Trust us, the boxer crab is one crustacean you DON’T want to mess with.
Researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel have been studying the cool crab in order to find out more information on it’s symbiotic relationship with sea anemones.
Apparently, the boxer crab got it’s name because it holds a sea anemone in each claw and then carries them around like a pair of poisonous pom-poms. The crabs use the anemones to not only protect themselves, but also to sting their prey. Often times, the researchers would even notice the crab scraping the anemone with its front legs to snag the food that had become trapped.
The lead author of the study and PhD candidate, Yisrael Schnytzer, learned just how crucial the anemone is to the boxer crab’s survival. When they removed the anemones from the crab’s claws, it would quickly begin to struggle and had a difficult time gathering enough food.
It appears that the boxer crab may be able to stunt the growth of the anemone because it took no time at all for them to double in size and grow longer tentacles when they were not in the crab’s clutches. The team also noticed that if there was only one anemone available… the crab would simply spend twenty minutes or so stretching and ripping the anemone in two. OUCH.
No worries, this method is somewhat clever because sea anemones can regenerate their bodies. What is essentially a form of cloning, one half will basically become a whole. Voila!
Mr. Schnytzer assumes that the anemones must also need the boxer crab for some reason because they’ve never actually observed them living on their own. Maybe the sea anemone is really the boxer crab’s biggest cheerleader after all.
Watch the boxer crab in action below: