Giant claw helps fiddler crabs stay cool in more ways than one

August 26, 2011
Giant claw helps fiddler crabs stay cool in more ways than one
A male Uca panacea performshe waving display. (c) M. Zachary Darnell

A male fiddler crab's oversized claw not only looks cool to the ladies, but new research suggests it literally helps crabs to stay cool.

Researchers Zachary Darnell and Pablo Munguia of the University of Texas placed under a hot light and took their temperatures.

They found that the temperatures of crabs missing their large claw rose faster and reached a higher maximum than intact crabs.

The finding suggests that in addition to having a role in mating displays and in fighting off competitors, giant claws aid in thermoregulation.

"The major claw may function like a heat sink, transferring heat away from the body and, through , dissipating that into the air," Dr. Darnell said.

The cooling action may help crabs to spend more time out of their burrows for foraging or sexual display.

It might also help offset the energetic costs of such a giant appendage, the researchers say.

Explore further: Size doesn't matter to fighting fiddler crabs

More information: M. Zachary Darnell and Pablo Munguia, "Thermoregulation as an Alternate Function of the Sexually Dimorphic Fiddler Crab Claw." American Naturalist, September 2011.

Related Stories

Size doesn't matter to fighting fiddler crabs

December 19, 2007

A person’s home may be their castle and in the world of the fiddler crabs having the home advantage makes it a near certainty that you’ll win a battle against an intruder – regardless of your opponent’s size.

Crab claws pack strengthening bromide-rich biomaterial

February 25, 2009

Next time you have an unlucky encounter with a crab's pinchers, consider that the claw tips may be reinforced with bromine-rich biomaterial 1.5 times harder than acrylic glass and extremely fracture resistant, says a University ...

Researcher finds fossilized shell-breaking crab

April 17, 2008

While waiting for colleagues at a small natural history museum in the state of Chiapas, Mexico last year, Cornell paleontologist Greg Dietl chanced upon a discovery that has helped rewrite the evolutionary history of crabs ...

Chinese takeaway in the Wadden Sea

September 25, 2007

Shore crabs catch their food at food-rich spots and subsequently eat it elsewhere. With this takeaway strategy the crabs maximize their food uptake and keep competing crabs at a distance, says Dutch researcher Isabel Smallegange.

Scientists report new take on sexual signaling

May 9, 2007

In dangerous environments, females looking for a mate run great risks. Scientists from Seoul National University, in Korea, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama present a new take on sexual signaling ...

Recommended for you

How Frankenstein saved humankind from probable extinction

October 28, 2016

Frankenstein as we know him, the grotesque monster that was created through a weird science experiment, is actually a nameless Creature created by scientist Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, "Frankenstein." ...

Closer look reveals tubule structure of endoplasmic reticulum

October 28, 2016

(—A team of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. has used high-resolution imaging techniques to get a closer look at the endoplasmic reticulum (ET), a cellular organelle, and in so doing, has found that its structure ...

Computer model is 'crystal ball' for E. coli bacteria

October 28, 2016

It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, and even more so when they involve the reactions of living cells—huge numbers of genes, proteins and enzymes, embedded in complex pathways and feedback loops. ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 26, 2011
Size matters?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.