Monday, August 6, 2012

Doing the wave makes you cool

Will and Kate know what I'm talking about:

Fiddler crab males like to wave too, and while their wave is more like, "Hey Girl" rather than "USA! All the way!", that big claw of theirs is keeping them cool.

"It's super hot out here, but that's not going to stop
me from waving at you, baby!" - male playa fiddler crab

Having a large claw is important for males when competing for females, but it's quite the nuisance: it's metabolically taxing to make and maintain the claw (and muscle), it makes movement across the sand difficult, and the worst thing (in my opinion) is that the massive claw gets in the way when eating. You may be thinking, "All that trouble just so he can say hello to the ladies?" Well, while the male is out there in the hot sun, waving up a storm, the large claw helps him stay physically cool. Heat in his body is transferred to his claw and lost through convective heat transfer, kind of like how African elephants stay cool with their large ears.

 "Hooray! We're proud of the Olympic athletes and super cool!"

Read more:
Darnell, M. Z., and P. Munguia. 2011. Thermoregulation as an alternate function of the sexually dimorphic fiddler crab claw. American Naturalist 178: 419 - 428.

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