Friday 2 December 2011

Japanese Spider Crab

Image: Wikipedia
The GIANT Japanese Spider Crab! Or Macrocheira kaempferi. Or 高脚蟹, which means "tall-footed crab"... you can say that again!

Japanese Spider Crabs are the biggest arthropods in the world in terms of legspan. Measuring 3.8 metres (12 ft) from claw to claw, they daintily tip-toe over the opposition. At 41 pounds (19 kg) they are not the heaviest and, with an actual body just 40 cm (16 in) wide, it's truly those sprawling legs that make their mark.

As is so often the case, it's the males who have the overly unwieldy sticky-out bits. They have curiously puny claws at the end of stupidly long chelipeds, or what you might call 'arms'.

In males these chelipeds are longer than the legs. Females have them shorter than their legs, appearing less nightmarish but more sensible. Nightmares are seldom sensible.

Image: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Invertebrate Zoology
A claw. Doesn't it look like a bird that has a lot of chewing to do?

The claws at the end are really small in comparison, but they look like some kind of bird's beak full of molars. If you remember our very own Arrow Crab, these giants are close relatives. It's just that the Japanese Spider Crab looks to me more like a futuristic bomb disposal robot. They can live for up to 100 years so they might even see that happen.

These crabs are found off the Pacific coast of Japan. It was always going to be Japan!

What their distribution lacks in surface area is perhaps made up for by depth; they can be found at depths between 50 metres (160 feet) all the way down to 600 m (2,000 ft).

Their diet of shellfish and carrion scavenged from the ocean floor stands them in good stead, puts a foot in the door and gives them a leg-up to survival in the gloom of the Twilight Zone.

Image: Biopix, N. Sloth
Pure ballet! Chest out, stomach in, ready for action.

Wherever they are, they always seem to have this wonderfully optimistic pose. The whole body is at an angle jauntier than Frank Sinatra's Fedora. They sort of remind me of Tintin. Or maybe that makes ME the weird one here?

Image: Wendell Reed via Flickr
Tintin, yesterday.


  1. Attack its weak point for massive damage!

  2. Woo! that was pretty great, thanks! That poor guy, hahah!

  3. Do you mean the crab, or the businessman sweating through one of the worst press events in media history? :D

  4. Mostly the man. I'm sure in real life the crab fought with great honour and earned himself a place in history forever.

  5. The Japanese word for foot also refers to the leg. Their Japanese name could also be translated as Long-Leg Crab.

  6. Ooooohh! That's good to know and makes even more sense. Thanks, Califer!

  7. These look yummy! I love crab meat, especially the king crab from Kamchatka but I only eat it like once a year because I do not want to drive them into extinction!
    Still, I can't help but imagine how these long-legged yummies would taste like. Are they endangered (or close to)?

  8. The Japanese Spider Crab is a different species of crab that is usually found in the water bodies in Japan.Crab is as long as 3.8 meters approximately is equal of 12.5 feet, body is not very heavy weigh as 41 pounds. They have eight legs. For more details refer Japanese Spider Crab