Coconut Crab’s Pinch Among the Strongest in the World

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Watch your fingers! New research finds that the hulking coconut crab has the strongest pinch of any animal.

In fact, this crustacean’s claws can snap closed harder than most animals can bite — with the exception of alligators, according to the study published Nov. 23 in the journal PLOS ONE.

 

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Coconut crabs are found along islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The animals can weigh up to about 9 lbs. (4 kilograms) and are capable of cracking open coconuts with their impressive claws, Oka and his colleagues wrote.

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Decapods — a group of crustaceans that includes crabs as well as lobsters and shrimp — can generate the greatest force per body mass with their claws of any group of animals, Oka and his colleagues wrote. But no one had ever tested the strength of the heavyweight coconut crab.

In the field, the researchers used a stainless-steel sensor to test the grips of the 29 captured crabs. Results showed that the maximum grips ranged from 29.4 newtons to 1,765.2 newtons. For comparison, the human bite can generate a force of up to 1,300 newtons at the molars, according to a 2010 study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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