Tiny Crab Unintentionally Makes Awesome Sand Art (Photos)

AlexanderY/CC BY 2.0

Given the time and emotional energy is takes to produce a masterpiece, it's not so surprising that some of the greatest artists throughout history may have come across as a bit aloof or easily irritable -- but in nature, there's one expert sand sculptor that may be crabbiest of all. Meet the Sand Bubbler crab, a crafty little beach-dweller native to the Indo-Pacific whose beautiful sand sphere creations are quite unintentionally artful.

AlexanderY/CC BY 2.0
scjody/CC BY 2.0

While these arrays of balled-up sand may look like the work of a nimble-handed artist, they're actually just the remnants left behind where a sand bubbler crab's been snacking. During low tide, the diminutive species, averaging less than a half-inch across, exit their burrows to scour the sand for tiny bits of organic debris in a radial motion. While eating, the crabs ball the excess sand on their heads, then discard it when it gets too big for them to see over -- leaving behind a remarkable-looking reminder which helps them keep from searching for food in the same sand twice.

Here's a nice video, filmed in Malaysia, of the sand bubbler crab in action:

Like a lot of the most fascinating art forms, particularly ones that use nature as its medium, the sand bubblers delicate creations are fleeting. Each time high tide returns, the sand ball arrays crumble and are washed away, all while leaving behind more food particles to fuel the tiny crab's next accidentally artistic pursuits.

Christian Haugen/CC BY 2.0

AnnieGreenSprings/CC BY 2.0

This one above looks to me like a flying cat with wings who's carrying a whip.

So deep.

Jaymis/CC BY 2.0

AlexanderY/CC BY 2.0

Tags: Animals | Oceans

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