Scientists Discover New Hermit Crab Species That Uses Live Coral as its Home

A new hermit crab species can live in a walking coral’s cavity in a reciprocal relationship, replacing the usual marine worm partner, according to a study published September 20, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Momoko Igawa and Makoto Kato from Kyoto University, Japan.

In marine ecosystems, certain ‘walking’ corals act in partnership with marine worms known as sipunculans. The worm shelters in the coral’s cavity and receives protection from predators, in return providing transportation and preventing the coral being buried in sea floor sediment. These two organisms have evolved a specialized codependence, and in such relationships, it is usually impossible to replace either partner with a different species.

Hermit crabs are best known for scavenging seashells left by marine creatures such as snails to protect their soft abdomens. However, when the authors of the present study surveyed walking corals in the Amami Islands of southern Japan, they identified a new species of hermit crab that adopts the walking coral as its home instead of a seashell.

Photo: USFWS/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

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Comments
No. 1-3
tommy
tommy

I do too! and a great article...

brigitte-perreault
brigitte-perreault

Editor

yes it is, and a great photo!

jackieboone
jackieboone

this is interesting ...

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