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*Birgus latro* Un

Christmas Island, Indian Ocean This species is a type of land hermit crab with a spectacular appearance and intriguing biology. It is propbably the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world and is able to grow to relatively gigantic proportions. Unlike most other hermit crabs, only the juveniles of this species find and use gastropod shells for protection as they develop. Adults have abandond the shell carrying habit, and instead have hardened shells over the abdomen. This protects the crab, reduces water loss and does not restrict its growth, allowing it to reach up to a metre in size. This huge crustacean is well adapted to life on land with long strong legs. It also has large muscular claws which are used for punching holes in coconuts and scooping out the flesh. This is a unique behaviour amongst crabs and explains why this species is called the coconut crab. The claws are in fact so powerful they can lift objects such as vegetation or rocks weighing up to 28kg. Its stalked eyes are red, and this crab's body colour varies between islands from purplish-blue to orange-red. Studies show that males are considerably larger than females.