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Deep under the ocean, there is a species of crab that eats trees. - BBC [View All]

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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-11-09 08:30 AM
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Deep under the ocean, there is a species of crab that eats trees. - BBC
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_835300...

The crab survives by eating wood that has sunk to the ocean floor, comprising trunks and leaves swept into the sea, as well as the odd shipwreck. Inside the stomach of the crab, also called a squat lobster, are bacteria and fungi that help digest the wood.

"At first sight, it seems improbable," says PhD student Caroline Hoyoux of the University of Lige, Belgium. "Munidopsis andamanica is a species only found in the deep sea and yet it eats 'terrestrial food'," she says.

Further investigation of the crabs mouthparts and gut contents revealed they feed exclusively on wood. "The wood falls that we study are principally natural tree debris that have sunk and reached the deep sea floor. They consist of real wood as well as plant fragments like leaves, seagrass, coconuts etc."

The ecological importance of wood falls rivals that of whale falls, where highly specialised communities of deep-sea animals colonise the bodies of dead whales and dolphins that drift to the sea bed.
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