Home / Funny / Animals / Giant Crustacean Crab Fossil Discovered In New Zealand


One day, Karl Raubenheimer, a resident of Taranaki, New Zealand, was strolling along a beach when he noticed something unusual. He was attracted to what appeared to be a massive claw sticking out of a rock because he was an amateur fossil hunter. He gently tapped it, and to his surprise, what he thought was a rock turned out to be an enormous male crab with an 8-inch pincer that was perfectly preserved.

By coincidence, ten years later Raubenheimer achieved the same success, this time uncovering a complete female fossil. His discoveries have now made history. Not only is it the biggest fossilised crab claw ever discovered, but it also comes from a species that scientists have never heard of before.

The achievement was documented in the New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, and Pseudocarcinus karlraubenheimeri, the new species of crab, was given its name in recognition of the man. The crab coexisted with crabs of all sizes during the Miocene Epoch, approximately 8.8 million years ago. Raubenheimer's larger fossil had a body that was 8 inches across, which was impressive given that it had a claw that was 8 inches long.

Scientists are currently investigating whether P. karlraubenheimeri, with its enormous size, is related to Pseudocarcinus gigas, the giant southern crab that lives on the ocean bottoms off the coast of Southern Australia and can weigh over 26 pounds. According to study author Barry W.M. van Bakel, "the currently living Giant Southern crab, Pseudocarcinus gigas, is one of the largest crabs to have ever lived," IFL Science said. Its claw can extend up to 47 centimeters, or 18.5 inches, or almost half a meter, or 1.6 feet! Its fossilised ancestor is around half as big.

Pseudocarcinus karlraubenheimeri is thought to have lived in waters several hundreds of meters deep, just like modern crabs. They played a crucial role in the food chain as well. They were a food source for ancient seals, whales, and dolphins, even though they may have also eaten clams, snails, and other crustaceans.

Regarding these specific fossils, it is likely that the crabs met their demise during a nearby Mohakatino Volcanic Center eruption, which is what allowed them to be preserved in such perfect condition. They could now provide insight into the development of larger crustaceans.

Van Bakel continued, "This is the largest fossil crab to have ever been discovered, which is fascinating." Additionally, the habitat's previous location was found: warm, nutrient-rich seafloor gas seeps that brought CO2 and/or methane to the sediment-water interface supported a diverse range of organisms, including smaller crabs, clams, and snails. This served as the enormous crabs' food source! The information regarding past ecosystems is fascinating. 

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