If you are afraid of crabs and other creatures, then this story is definitely going to give you chills or nightmares, or both. A video of a huge coconut crab eating an adult seabird on an island in the Indian Ocean has emerged on YouTube and is terrifying a lot of people. The killed and eaten seabird was a red-footed booby, which made a fatal mistake by deciding to sleep on a not-so-tall branch.
Coconut crabs, also known as Birgus Iatro, are the biggest arthropods on the land, as they can reach a size of three feet, which is giant for a crab. The vast expanse of their spidery, armor-clad legs look terrifying enough to ruin the day of a person who is afraid of arthropods. They have huge claws capable of lifting 66 pounds of weight with the ability to pinch with up to 3,300 newtons of force. The pinch of their claws is so strong that it can compare to the bite of a lion in the amount of force.
Birgus Iatro crabs earned their name thanks to their ability to break coconuts open. Although their diet consists of mostly fruit, these terrifying creatures don’t eat only fruit. Their omnivore nature means they will also eat meat if they can grab it without too much effort, meaning they will eat a smaller crab or a similar dead creature.
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Still, it is hard to believe these crabs would eat something like a full-sized adult seabird, until now. Mark Laidre is a biologist at Dartmouth College, and he studied coconut crabs in the Chagos Archipelago last year. He was the person who recorded the terrifying scene of a huge coconut crab eating a seabird alive. Twenty minutes after the sleeping seabird was attacked, more coconut crabs swarmed in, finishing the helpless bird off within several hours.
According to Laidre, who reported what he found and saw in a paper that was published last week, this isn’t the first time that this monstrous creature killed and ate a red-footed booby. His colleague saw a bird pulled into a crab’s burrow two years ago.
According to Laidre, the presence of coconut crabs could be affecting bird nesting behavior on these small islands. Basically, these crab species are unable to swim, meaning there is more of them in some areas than others.
“They’re not belligerent. They’re curious,” Laidre explained to Elaina Zachos at National Geographic. “They’re not coming and jumping and trying to attack you. Coconut crabs more should fear humans.”
So it’s unlikely that a coconut crab will attack or try to eat a human alive. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry. What do you think about this story? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.