Widehand Hermit

Widehand Hermit


Widehand Hermit
Elassochirus tenuimanus


Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington

Archival Pigment Print

Most of us are so familiar with hermit crabs, which have been popularized as children’s pets and animated characters, that we take for granted a remarkable evolutionary adaptation: They appropriate the dead skeletons of other, unrelated animals for their own use. In fact, most are completely reliant on those foreign skeletons, whose original owners were snails. This species uses the large right claw to block the entrance to the shell when the animal retreats inside. This particular crab lives in a shell with live barnacles attached.