Monday, April 13, 2009

Anicent Hermit Crabs-like Animals May Have Been First to Walk the Earth

Many people, including Catholicgauze, know hermit crabs as lovable, easily cared for pets. Whether these crabs live on water or land it is fun to watch them switch shells and interact with their environment.

Few realize though that the process of living in old shells to survive may have its genesis half a billion years ago and led to the first invasion of air-exposed land by animals. Way back 500 million years ago the seas were full of life while land was bare sans patches of algae along the shore. Scientists looking at old sandstone notice what appear to be shell patterns. They propose that shallow water living animals used shells to keep their gills moist as they walked on land to consume algae free of any predator threat. While no fossils have been found of these animals on what is believed to be ancient shore, the scientists continue to research and promote their theory based on shell tracks.

Today hermit crabs continue the process. The species of Caribbean and Ecuadorian hermit crabs (the two most popular hermit crabs used as pets in America) begin their life in the sea but through a process of molting gain the ability to become terrestrial animals. They continue on the old tradition keeping most in shells while also using them as physical protection. Little do they know the role their ancient ancestors played in the epic that is Earth's history.

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