Friday 8 August 2014

Moon Crab

Image: budak
It's the world's most flat-footed crab!

Moon Crabs are less than 20 species in the Matutidae family.

Image: Andrey Papko
It turns out Matutidae is a rather interesting name! It comes from the Latin maturas, which meant "ripe" or "early". It's where we get the word "mature" from.

But it also gave us cool words like "matutine" and "matutinal" which all have something to do with the morning and there was also a Roman goddess of the dawn called Mater Matuta.

Image: Bill & Mark Bell
So it's a ripe and early, mature, morning Moon Crab. Phew! I hope they don't think about all that too much, they wouldn't know whether they're coming or going!

Moon Crabs are mostly nocturnal, so they clearly went for the Moon option. They also have a pair of large spikes sticking out of the sides of their carapace so they look just like a moon on a stick.

Image: Ria Tan
Daytime hours are spent buried in sand at the beach. Moon Crabs are really good at burying themselves because they have a whole set of shovels.

Every one of their eight feet is flattened into a kind of paddle or spade so they can disappear underground at a moment's notice or even swim when they want to.

Image: Ria Tan
Moon Crabs seem to be rather proud of their flat feet and thick legs. Most of their body is sandy-coloured for camouflage but their limbs are frequently clad in gorgeous, eye-catching colours and patterns.

I still don't know if they can dance with eight flat feet, though.


Crunchy said...

So they're called Moon Crabs because they look like a moon skewered on a stick, and because - also like the moon - they can rapidly bury themselves. Also they have something to do with the morning, much like the moon does not.

You know, I think that maybe the marine biologist who named this little guy was just thinking about the moon at the time. It could've just as easily been the lasagna crab, given its coloration and the lunch menu for that particular research vessel.

TexWisGirl said...

pretty cool!

Joseph JG said...

@Crunchy: I love the idea of Lasagne Crab! I wonder how many creatures out there are named after something as silly the day's breakfast? I'm sure it's out there somewhere!

@TexWisGirl: They're not bad!