When a pom-pom crab is lacking sea anemones, it steals one from another crab and splits it into two fragments that regenerate into identical clones of the original anemone. Study footage courtesy Yisrael Schnytzer
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Pom-pom crabs, or boxer crabs, earned their nickname from the fact that they carry two live sea anemones, one in each claw. In this symbiotic relationship, the crab is protected from predators by waving the anemones, which are covered with stinging cells. In exchange, the anemones get leftover food from the crab’s meals. A new study shows that this relationship is even more complex. When a pom-pom crab is lacking sea anemones, it steals one from another crab and splits it into two fragments that regenerate into identical clones of the original anemone.
Read more about how researchers studied pom-pom crabs and discovered this behavior, the first known case of one animal stimulating another animal to reproduce asexually.
Study footage courtesy Yisrael Schnytzer
Watch These Crabs Tear Their Living “Pom-Poms” to Shreds | National Geographic