While most hermit crabs search for empty shells to settle in for protection, blanket-hermit crabs have a different strategy.
The curious crustaceans have developed a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, which they “wear” to cover their soft bellies.
The crabs use highly specialised claw-bearing limbs called chelipeds to pull the anemone’s tissue back and forth to cover their soft bodies and heads whenever necessary, much like hiding under a blanket.
Several species of the creatures are known to live in the Indo-West Pacific. The identity of the sea anemone species involved in the symbiotic relationship with any of the studied blanket-hermit crabs is currently uncertain, and their biology remains unknown.
Originally published by Cosmos as Meet the blanket-hermit crab
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