Spider crab molting

Enjoy this time-lapse video of a Japanese spider crab shedding its shell. (via Pink Tentacle, thanks Antinous!)



  1. Is it just me, or do you immediately thing about melting some butter and diving into a plate of softshells after watching this?

  2. Wowzers!

    When the legs came out I actually gasped. Amazing and beautiful.

    Odd note: the youtube ad I got was for “BP’s Youtube Channel”. Regeneration and degeneration all at once.

  3. Gah, thanks for the heebie jeebies! The thought of all those still-squishy limbs slithering their way out of the old armor is making me feel a bit faint… That said, if the still squishy crab accidentally wandered into a deep fryer, I’d be all over it.

  4. What do you think it feels like? I’m imaging finally removing a scab, covering the entire body.

    1. Perhaps, and I’m thinking the new soft shell would be very sensitive to touch before it hardens.

    2. watching this made me feel uncomfortably claustrophobic, like taking off a ski jacket while riding in a prius

  5. @8, that’s exactly what I was thinking. It must feel like when you lost your baby teeth – kind of itchy-hurty

  6. Can someone explain to me how the mechanics of this works? It looks impossible!

    Does the crab pulls his legs out first and store them somewhere in the old shell before pulling his body out? I ask because, it looks as if the legs are already loose by the time the body is out.

    This is NOT like how I get out of my shirt. I get my body out and then pull each arm out separately. However, I remember seeing kids who pull both arms out and then push the shirt over their head, which looks like how this crab is doing it. Except I don’t understand where he puts his legs inside the shell!

    1. I ran into a freshly molted lobster once in the shallows in New England. It was quite, quite gelatinous. Horrifyingly, nightmarishly gelatinous.

      1. Not horrifyingly, nightmarishly delicious? I’m just imagining a soft-shelled, flash-fried lobster-claw, with an orange, white wine ginger & coriander sauce over the top…

    2. If it helps any, watch the limb motion. When it stops filter feeding with the first pair of limbs (And walking around on the other eight) and settles down, I’d say that’s when it’s started “shrugging” out of the legs. After that, the twitching is just secondary movement caused by pulling it’s legs out of the carapace’s legs.

  7. the horror… @13 i bet there’s some secretion involved. yug, i like my bugs better with rice.

  8. That’s awesome. I wonder how long the shell stays soft?

    It looks like one leg got stuck on the way out. At about 1:06 you can see a little outside help via a stick poking at the leg in the old shell.

    1. It was starting to get a little cramped in there so I molted, why not?

      Ah, the fresh air feels good!

  9. Thanks for the replies.
    Something interesting seems to happen between 50s and 59s marks. If you look at his 3rd left leg and 4th right leg (counting from the bottom), you see something white stick out of the front and then retreat back in. I wonder if that’s just him squishing around and pulling his legs in…

  10. sweet jumpin jesus. that’s got to be one of the creepiest things i’ve ever seen.

    now, get in my belly.

  11. I’m with imnothere, the little skittery things and the tonguing mollusks were fabulous.

    1. kill it with fire!

      No! Kill it with boiling water, then make sure it’s dead with large doses of lemon and butter!

  12. Wow. So shocking when it suddenly comes off.

    Is it eating all those little crabs, by the way? It’s a little hard to tell.

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