08 Jun '12, 7am
The Annotated Budak: Of hairy crabs and healthy reefs by @budak
most familiar to intertidal explorers of local shores is a bumbling pile of legs attached to the scowl of a shell. Covered with bristles that gather dirt and trap sediment, these pilumnids pursue a life of deliberate movements on rocky outcrops and fringing rubble, where they subsist on seaweed, sponges, polychaetes and noxious polyps, the latter of which confer a measure of disagreeability to their mortal wounds. Many xanthid crabs, which have made a taxonomical break from pilumnids on account of fused male abdominal segments as well as distinguishing larval and genital traits, also appropriate the potent cocktails of toxic organisms and have evolved colours that discourage fatal sampling, but Pilumnus verspetillio appears to put more store in stealth than virulence and faced no selective pressures to ditch hair for hue.