hermit crab

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hermit crab,

a crustaceancrustacean
, primarily aquatic arthropod of the subphylum Crustacea. Most of the 44,000 crustacean species are marine, but there are many freshwater forms. The few groups that inhabit terrestrial areas have not been particularly successful in an evolutionary sense; most require
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 distinguished from true crabs by its long, soft, spirally coiled abdomen terminating in an asymmetrically hooked tail. Most hermit crabs protect this vulnerable portion of their bodies by occupying the empty shells of periwinkles, whelks, and other gastropod mollusks. A few find other homes; for example, a species that inhabits the Indian Ocean lives in sections of old bamboo cane. When the hermit crab grows out of one shell it seeks a larger one, fighting for it if challenged. Sea anemones often attach themselves to these shells, obtaining free transportation and scraps of food in return for protecting their hosts. Hermit crabs are common beach scavengers in most parts of the world.

Most species are marine, but some tropical forms, such as the coconut, or robber, crab, Birgus latro, are largely terrestrial. This species, the largest hermit crab, has a body that may reach 16 in. (40 cm) in length, with legs that span 3 ft (.91 m) or more. It becomes increasingly terrestrial and develops heavy armor as it matures into an adult, at which stage it is able to completely discard its adopted shell. With its great pincers it has been known to crack coconuts, which it obtains by climbing palm trees. Coconut crabs also have been observed preying on birds as large as a booby.

Hermit crabs are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
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, subphylum Crustacea, order Decapoda.

hermit crab

[′hər·mət ‚krab]
(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for a number of marine decapod crustaceans of the families Paguridae and Parapaguridae; all lack right-sided appendages and have a large, soft, coiled abdomen.

hermit crab

any small soft-bodied decapod crustacean of the genus Pagurus and related genera, living in and carrying about the empty shells of whelks or similar molluscs
References in periodicals archive ?
That Cambrian arthropods had some sort of behavioral adaptation for coping with times out of water is not so surprising, but for them to be using shells like hermit crabs nearly 500 million years ago is amazing.
Anyone who has strolled through a shopping mall in the past year or so has likely walked past a kiosk selling hermit crabs.
The other two species of Koleolepas (the only genus in the family Koleolepadidae) also occur on gastropod shells that are carrying sea anemones and are occupied by hermit crabs [9, 10].
Hermit crabs have no shell of their own so inhabit other structures, usually empty mollusc shells.
Accuracy was essential; the production team had large ambitions to convince real-life hermit crabs to inhabit the 3D printed shells for the duration of filming.
Among these the sediment, water temperature and salinity are cited as the most important factors for hermit crabs (Abele, 1974; Negreiros-Fransozo et al, 1991; Bertini et al, 2004; Mantelatto et al, 2004; Fantucci et al, 2009).
Hermit crabs meticulously select and salvage empty and discarded shells of sea snails for protection from its predators.
Unlike other crabs, hermit crabs lack a hard shell to protect their abdomen.
Become a marine biologist for a day and transfer replanted coral fragments to the underwater coral garden or collect coral fragments in the sea and attach them to a biorock structure, snorkel the house reef with an underwater camera or take a kayak trip into the mangroves, explore mudskippers and hermit crabs or trek into the dense jungle bursting with butterflies, birds, cicadas and endless flora.
This week's theme is finding a home and there's a fantastic scene of hermit crabs forming a queue in order of size so they can each upgrade to a slightly bigger sea-shell.
Sir David Attenborough looks at African wild dogs (left) in Zambia, chimps in the Sahara and tiny tropical hermit crabs searching for shells.
You can find beadlet anemones, shore crabs, comical hermit crabs, shrimps that will happily climb onto your finger and cushion starfish.