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Ghost Crabs Use Teeth In Their Stomachs To Growl

In science news this week: ghost crabs growl. Yep. Weird, right? Although they aren't the most formidable of creatures (although I'm sure many people would disagree with me there), ghost crabs have the bonus of having decent claws AND a (cute) growl. If I were 2 inches tall, I would be terrified. 

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  • picture of a ghost crab on sand

    It has been known for a long time that crabs have teeth inside their stomachs to grind up food, but scientists have just found out that ghost crabs also use these teeth for communication. In particular, growling (although to me it sounds like more of a click than a growl - see for yourself below). 




  • picture two ghost crabs fighting
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    Via Pinterest

    Crabs are well-known to make clicking sounds with their claws to deter intruders by rubbing the claw's sharp ridges together. But when the intruder comes too close, the crabs will raise their claws in a come-and-get-me style, which prevents them from making sounds with them. This was when scientist Jennifer Taylor noticed that one ghost crab continued to make sound - but not with it's claws. 


  • gif teeth inside ghost crab stomach moving
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    Via Giphy

    Taylor X-rayed a box of ghost crabs that felt threatened by various objects, including a toy crab and a tiny robot. The X-ray fluoroscopy videos showed that the growling sound coincided with the movement of the teeth in their stomach (or gastric mills), and they were not eating at the time. 


  • picture ghost crab
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    Via USGS

    So, if you stumble across a ghost crab on the beach and you hear it growling, you'd better back off. The little guy is letting you know that you've crossed the line and you don't want to be in the bad books of a crab

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