The mighty pinch of the coconut crab

The coconut crab, or “robber crab” (Birgus latro), is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world, with individuals weighing up to four kg (about 9 pounds).  They have a wide range: But because of their size and the fact that they’re tasty, they’ve been largely driven extinct by humans on populated islands. Here’s how big they are: They … Continue reading The mighty pinch of the coconut crab

Readers’ wildlife video

Reader Dennis Hansen, whose photographs of Aldabra (a large coral atoll that’s part of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean) and its tortoises and crabs have appeared on this site before (see, for instance, here, here, here, and here), has now sent a video of his work on the island’s tortoises, “Ghosts, giants, and resurrection.” It’s a … Continue reading Readers’ wildlife video

Readers’ wildlife photos (and a video)

Once again we’re lucky to have a video sent by a reader. Dennis Hansen, a biologist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies in Zurich, has sent us pictures and videos before from islands in the Indian Ocean. Here we have a reptile from the Aldabra Atoll, with these notes: I am slightly disturbed … Continue reading Readers’ wildlife photos (and a video)

More on swimming tortoises

by Greg Mayer Dennis Hansen, our Aldabra correspondent, sent Jerry a very nice video of a swimming Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). This immediately brought to mind what is, in my view, one of the most important recent papers in biogeography, “The first substantiated case of trans-oceanic tortoise dispersal” by Justin Gerlach, Catharine Muir, and … Continue reading More on swimming tortoises

Giant tortoises FTW

What better way to conclude Darwin Day than with some pictures of giant tortoises—not from the Galápagos, mind you, but an independently evolved case of island gigantism on Aldrabra in the Indian Ocean. The pictures come from biologist and reader Dennis Hansen from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies in Zurich. His explanation: … Continue reading Giant tortoises FTW

Now that’s a crab

Update: Reader Dennis Hansen, a biologist who works on the Indian Ocean island of Aldabra in the Seychelles, which (like the Galapagos) has giant tortoises, sends three coconut crab photos and a note: Here’s a few photos of coconut crabs from Aldabra, for your perusal. They leave the giant tortoises alone, it seems. At least … Continue reading Now that’s a crab

Biology: a reader reports from Mauritius

Mauritius is a small volcanic island of about 2000 square kilometers, located 900 km east of Madagascar.   Because of its origin as an oceanic island that formed bereft of any life, it’s home to many rare and endemic species (some of which, like the dodo, are extinct). When I asked readers to send photos of … Continue reading Biology: a reader reports from Mauritius