November 26th, 2016 by James Ayre
The coconut crab has the strongest pinching force of all crustaceans — with the force applied during pinching actually being greater than the biting force of all living terrestrial animals except for alligators — according to new research detailed in a paper published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
Notably, the research found that that pinching force increased with body mass — amongst the coconut crabs studied. Going by the maximum known weight for coconut crabs, the researchers involved in the work estimate a maximum pinching force of 3,300 newtons.
As noted above, this is greater than: the pinching force of all known crustaceans, and greater than the biting force of all living terrestrial animals except for alligators. Importantly, this comparison doesn’t hold true when extinct animals are accounted for as well.
As the name implies, the coconut crabs’ powerful claws are no doubt related to their consumption of coconuts — being one of the few animals that can readily access the concentrated nutrition inside coconuts.
The research paper provides a bit more: “Coconut crabs are the largest terrestrial crustacean and are remarkably strong, lifting up to 28 kilograms. The crabs use their claws to fight and defend themselves, and to eat coconuts and other foods with hard exteriors. While decapods exert the greatest pinching force relative to their mass, the pinching force of coconut crabs was unknown. The researchers measured the claw pinching force of 29 wild coconut crabs from Okinawa Island, Japan.”
Interesting news, though not too surprising. Considering that in prehistory there were now-extinct crabs much larger than coconut crabs, though, I have to wonder…
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