The Coconut Crab Kills Birds And Breaks Bones – And May Have Eaten Amelia Earhart.
Its claws are as powerful as a lions jaw. Charles Darwin called them simply “Monstrous” when he first saw them for himself. Their pincers are some of the most powerful and most dangerous weapons in the animal kingdom. If its claws clamp down on your leg, it will grip you with as much power as a bite from a lion’s jaws. Meet the Coconut Crab!
Growing to more than 3 feet, coconut crabs or Birgus latro are the world’s largest land-dwelling arthropods.
These crabs, instead of snapping their claws, apply a crushing pinch force. A previous study showed that the terrestrial crabs have a pinch force of 750 pounds. For reference, humans have a moderate bite power of 265 pounds.
Coconuts aren’t the only thing these creatures eat. They’ve been known to hunt and kill birds, to tear apart live pigs, and even to cannibalize the corpses of other coconut crabs.
In 1940, researchers discovered a fraction of a skeleton on the island that matched the description of Amelia Earhart.
Now, even more interesting clues are arising that seem to substantiate the idea that this is where she met her demise. The most compelling hypothesis currently under consideration is that coconut crabs overwhelmed her where she lay.
Researchers carried out an experiment to validate whether the coconut crabs had a part in her demise.
Back in 2007, they used a small pig carcass to assess what the coconut crabs might have done. The bones were removed very quickly and scattered, according to Patricia Thrasher, TIGHAR’s president. Lovely…
This issue is far from settled, however. As BBC Future reports:
The evidence on Nikumaroro could turn out to be an odd coincidence and wishful thinking, meaning that the castaway’s bones actually belong to some other poor, stranded soul. In this scenario, Earhart simply crashed into the ocean and died on impact – probably a preferable ending to being eaten by giant coconut crabs.