Field Frame Friday: Cat Call via Crab Claw?

“Hey there, wanna check out my burrow?” Fiddler crabs (genus: Uca) have sexual dimorphism, meaning that males and females have different characteristics aside from their sexual organs. This male thick-legged fiddler crab (Uca crassipes) has a claw that is much larger than the female (on the right) and can be used for communication, courtship, and combat. The male fiddler crab will use his claw in waving displays that signals to the female they are ready to mate. Females will choose males based on their claw size and the quality of waving. More vigorous waving display indicates a healthier male and a larger claw indicates a wider burrow which will provide better temperatures for egg incubation.

[Photo and caption contributed by Karli Chudeau]

Salmon, M. & Atsaides, S.P. (1968). Visual and Acoustical Signaling during Courtship by Fiddler Crabs (Genus Uca), American Zoologist 8(3), 623–639.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Alexander Vining says:

    In my intro to animal behavior animal our instructor had us all get up and do “the fiddler crab dance” in which we all ran around making claws of our right hands and waving them around in mock mating displays. Now you know why I am in this field.


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