Why wouldn’t the crab share his fishing tackle? Because he was shellfish. Ha! Seriously, crabs are among the world’s most unusual bottom dwellers. There are 4,500 species of crab living in freshwater, saltwater and on land. All crabs have 10 legs and a shell, but that’s about all they have in common. Here are some interesting facts about crabs you can pinch your claws into.
9 Things You Didn’t Know about Crabs
- Some critters we call crabs aren’t actually crabs. Hermit crabs only have eight legs and they don’t produce a hard carapace. King crabs are related to hermit crabs, but they evolved with long legs and a hard shell to look like true crabs. Horseshoe crabs are related to spiders, not crabs.
- Crabs come in a vast range of sizes, from a tiny pea crab living inside a mollusk to the giant Japanese spider crab with its 13-foot leg span. Spider crabs live the longest, up to 100 years.
- Crabapple trees aren’t named after the crustacean. The name comes from the Swedish word skrabba, translated as “fruit of the wild apple.”
- Both the astrological sign and the constellation Cancer are depicted as crabs. In Greek mythology, Cancer, the crab, pinched the foot of Heracles as he battled the Hydra. Heracles killed the crab, and the goddess Hera put the crab in the heavens.
- In Malaysian mythology, ocean tides are created by a gigantic crab leaving its hole to look for food. When the crab leaves its home, water rushes in causing the water level to drop.
- Imitation crab, which is made from minced fish, is frowned upon by foodies, but it’s a popular ingredient in sushi, salads and crab cakes. In certain cultures, imitation crab, called surimi, is an important source of protein.
- Famous crabs are celebrities, like Mr. Krabs, owner of the Krusty Krab in Spongebob Squarepants and Sebastian the striking Caribbean crab in the Disney classic, The Little Mermaid.
- Calling someone crabby likely originated from a crab using its claws to nip and hold on. Also, crabs walk sideways, different from other creatures, making the innocent crab a perfect metaphor for a cranky person.
- Remember doing the crabwalk in gym class? Moving awkwardly on your hands and feet with your belly facing the ceiling is named for the crustacean, but real crabs walk and swim sideways. Some crabs can move forward and backward.
There are 4,500 species of crab living in freshwater, saltwater and on land. | Feature photo: Phil Hearing/Unsplash