A biologist studying coconut crabs on a remote island in the Indian Ocean was amazed to discover that the creatures actually hunt and eat seabirds.
Mark Laidre managed to film the aftermath of one such attack, which he described as unfolding in a rather remarkable fashion and was something that had heretofore never been seen exhibited by this species of crab.
The pugnacious crustacean, he said, actually climbed a tree and pounced on a bird sitting in its nest, snapping its wing and sending it flailing to the ground.
And then, in a calculating manner one might expect from a serial killer, the crab dropped down onto the injured bird and broke its other wing so that it could not escape.
As if this encounter was already not nightmarish enough for the unfortunate bird, the downed creature was then swarmed by other coconut crabs who feasted on the helpless animal.
Laidre's discovery may serve to solve some mysteries surrounding coconut crabs and birds as he notes that the adversarial nature of the two types of creatures is borne out by population studies of other islands where only one or the other dominates the ecosystem.
On this particular island, it would appear that the large crabs literally rule the roost although, apparently, some seabirds have had to learn that the hard way.
Source: The Guardian