fiddler crabs

Clawing Their Way to Victory

Research suggests fiddler crabs with regenerated claws have distinct fighting strategies.

Male fiddler crabs have one oversized claw, which they use to both attract females and to fight other males for the best breeding burrows on the beach. These fights can get violent, and crabs will sometimes lose their big fighting claw in the process. Fiddler crabs have the ability to regrow their claw, though the new one will never be as sturdy as the original, says Daisuke Muramatsu, a biologist at Kyoto University in Japan.

Even in their weakened state, the crabs must fight. Yet based on his new research, Muramatsu argues that fiddler crabs are more strategic fighters than we’ve given them credit for: he says they pick battles that account for their handicap, and use a strategy of bluff and counter-bluff to end disputes before they begin. Read more in Hakai.