|Image: Oliver Cardona|
What we need is armour. Full body armour. Woven from titanium, poison and vengeance.
|Image: Bernard DUPONT|
They'll never expect THAT!
|Image: Hans Hillewaert|
They are incredibly bulky as crabs go. Their bodies are almost spherical in shape and their limbs are immensely thick and chunky. They look like they've been carved out of solid rock by someone who isn't actually all that good at carving things out of solid rock.
Some of them appear to be just a little bit fuzzy all over...
|Image: Peter Southwood|
Shaggy Sponge Crab (Dromidia hirsutissima)
While the Sleepy Sponge Crab is the largest at some 20 cm (8 in) across. However big they are, you can see them striding about the place on four, thick legs as they sport their strange, sponge head dress.
Wait a minute... four legs? FOUR? Crabs are supposed to have eight!
Are we too late? Has the soft, fluffy hat failed them and even now their legs are being gnawed upon by some... some... nightmare creature of nightmarish nightmare?
Sorry, but I'm lost for words (aside from the word 'nightmare'). I just can't imagine what manner of hellish death-beast would be unfazed by such a soft, fluffy hat. Unless... a hell-beast... with an even softer, fluffier hat?
IT CANNOT BE.
|Image: Ria Tan|
See the little legs clinging on to the sponge?
Sponges are those strange, barely-animals that exist as a colony of cells squished onto rocks or moulded into various, towering shapes. Sponge Crabs simply walk over to them and cut a chunk off. Then they use their pincers to nip and tuck it into shape so that it'll fit the contours of their carapace nicely.
It sounds quite bad for the sponge. Most of us wouldn't like to have bits and pieces of our body ripped off by a crab. But sponges can bear far worse, and they happily continue feeding and growing right there on the crab's back. This can blossom into a long-lasting relationship as both the sponge and the crab grow up together, with the crab performing the odd bit of pruning now and again to keep things under control.
Hermodice carunculata uses provocatively coloured pincers to tackle a Bearded Fireworm
Still, who would say no to a living hat that squirts out toxins when it's frightened? If nothing else, it sounds like a great way to collect anecdotes to share with any surviving friends and acquaintances.
This infuriated Sponge Crab lacks a sponge so you get to see those strange hind legs
One really cool thing about some Sponge Crabs is that they occasionally go mad for some reason. They not only look like angry golems, they behave like them too. They give unrelenting chase to divers and who knows what else, swiping and nipping with their claws. It's as if some guy carved them out of solid rock, animated them with dark magicks and commanded them to patrol the ocean floor and defend buried treasures from prying eyes.
Maybe I played one too many computer games that featured golems, but this sounds convincing to me...