Thursday, February 28, 2013


You may not know this about me, but isopods freak me out (unlike these guys, apparently). What are isopods? They're crustaceans that haunt my dreams are found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. The only known isopod I will happily play with is the roly-poly. Other than that, I will turn into a little girl, scream, and run away (unless I'm on a boat, in which case I'll stay on board because those suckers are EVERYWHERE in the ocean). Why am I so creeped out by them?

Exhibit A:

he's not joking. he will.

Exhibit B:

God help this sweet kitten

And finally, Exhibit C:

isopod got your tongue?

Yes, folks. That's an isopod living in the mouth of a fish! This isn't the first time we've met a parasitic isopod. Remember the hyperparasite that lives on rhizocephalans that are themselves parasitizing crabs? They're awesome in the 'karma' sense, but that's about it.

Back to the tongue-eating isopod, my sister sent me an informative video about Cymothoa exigua:

That almost makes them seem endearing, but don't let the little cartoons fool you! They will eat your soul!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Trading WHAT for protection?

Oh, fiddler crabs, you're at it again.

"Who, me?"

You may already know that I have a deep-seeded distrust of fiddler crabs (despite this story I made up about one), but this next bit of science takes the cake. Few animals in the animal kingdom are monogamous. Hey, they all can't be like the mantis shrimp, right? But female fiddler crabs take this idea of polygamy to a whole new level! Female Uca mjoebergi will mate outside of their burrows on the sand flat for all the world to see. This rather public display with a male fiddler crab will secure that male's devotion in protecting her burrow. She trades sex for protection!

However, this broad's not finished with getting her, er, crab on. She'll next mate with a male inside her burrow, which is protected by her first mate. So the first male gets to mate, but it's the last male that will likely fertilize the majority of her eggs!

"There's nothing going on behind MY back, right? Right?"

The Slatyer et al. (2012) paper observed that the neighboring males were significantly more inclined to help after mating, so really the males are just as sleazy as the females.

cute, but still sleazy

Thanks to Meghan Garrison for telling me about this incredible crab behavior!

Read more:
Slatyer, R.A., M. D. Jennions, and P. R. Y. Blackwell. 2012. Polyandry occurs because females initially trade sex for protection. Animal Behviour 83: 1203-1206.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Crabday!

I hope you are all having a lovely day! To celebrate Valentine's Crabday, I thought it would be perfect to introduce you all to the incredibly lovely

Heart Crab
Phyllolithodes papillosus

I *heart* this crab!
Imagine my surprise and joy when I found out this beauty is an Alaska native! Heart crabs, or flatspine triangle crabs (yawn), spread the love from Dutch Harbor, Alaska all the way to southern California. They're lithodids, meaning they're related to the king crabs we know and love. The red hearts are actually large bumps, or 'papillae', hence their species name papillosus. The neat thing is that, while the adults are beautiful in their own Valentine-themed way, the juveniles have white, purple, and orange markings too!

"Yar, check out me orange beard!" - juvie heart crab

If you haven't already, don't forget to make someone (or some pet) a special card for today:
Lobster Love (a bit risque)

Share the Crab Love!

Friday, February 8, 2013

I *crab heart* you!

Valentine's Day is coming up, which means it's time for another crustacean-themed card for your sweetie! I was thinking about crab hearts a while back (when discussing pain in crustaceans) and realized they're just as beautiful as the fake hearts we see everywhere around this time of year!

 The blue really catches the eyes, but check out that fun shape!
(drawing from here)

Inspired by the ol' crab circulatory system, I decided to keep this year's Valentine's Day card simple and sweet:

To make your own, simply download the pdf here, print it out, fold in half, then write something sweet or snappy inside! Your loved ones will love it!

You may be asking yourself: what are those little holes in the crab heart drawing? Those are the ostia (singular = ostium) through which hemolymph, or crab blood, is pumped. When the heart is in its relaxed state, the pores open and pull hemolymph in. The hemolymph gets oxygen, then the heart pumps it back out to all the crab innards and extremities to deliver that oh-so-important O2. You see, crabs have an open circulatory system, as opposed to people: blood just goes everywhere and isn't limited to blood vessels like mammals (which is why it was so easy for me to take hemolymph samples, but you wouldn't want to count on me drawing your blood). In my mind, a card with a crab heart representing an open circulatory system is WAY better than one of those "Keep an open heart" necklaces Jane Seymour's been peddling! And you can quote me on that!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crab Bowl

Are you ready for some football!?!?!?!

This year's Super Bowl features two teams from very crab-centric cities: the Dungeness crab loving San Francisco and the blue crab loving Baltimore!

Metacarcinus magister vs. Callinectes sapidus!

Both crabs are pretty awesome in their own ways, but in a Crab Bowl, who do you think would win? The defensively strong Dungies or the quick swimming blues? Weigh in at the poll on the sidebar!

Well, everyone who voiced their opinions were on Team Dungie, but Crab Bowl did not reflect Super Bowl. I guess the Ravens were lucky they weren't a team of swimming crabs. Good job, boys. Good job.

P.S. Remember that blue crabs are really Bears fans anyways? Go Bears!