Friday, January 13, 2012

Dawn of the Crabs

Many of you who know me know that I love a good zombie flick. So imagine my glee at discovering this week's Crabday crab:

Zombie Crab
Gecarcinus ruricola

I first stumbled upon the zombie crab when covering Barbados' Independence Day, but I didn't want to stop there. No, we all need to learn more about this wonderful creature!

The Walking Crab

The zombie crab is a Caribbean land crab, so while I first noted their Barbados dwelling, they're also found in Cuba and islands of the Lesser Antilles. They have more common less fun names like the purple/red/black land crab (sounds like a pretty sweet goth color scheme though), but "zombie crab" seems the most appropriate when considering their interspecies intermingling. Drosophila carcinophila and D. endobranchia spend most of their lives on zombie crabs - you see it now? Crabs covered in flies like road kill, but still walking around and able to flee from predators! DON'T LET THEM BITE YOU!!!

oh yeah, they really just eat plant matter...
and cat food, on occasion

 The flies basically use zombie crabs as a nursery, but then never seem to move on.

the "crabitat", coined by Stensmyr et al. (2008):
(D) a male and female fly flirting near the crab's eyestalk,
(E) a larval fly (red arrow) eating microbes off nephric pads,
and (F) gill chamber where 2nd instar larvae live

You could say the flies have a Failure to Launch. Eh? Get it? (Yes, I kind of hate myself for using that movie reference. But the movie did have its charming moments. I mean, who doesn't enjoy a good Zooey Deschanel one-liner?) Ugh, I should just stick to zombie movie references from now on.

day 1: exposure to zombie crabs
day 2: obsession with zombie crabs
day 3: EPIDEMIC! 

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