Coconut crabs are petrifying tree-climbing animals with claws that are powerful enough to rip a coconut apart, and they are suspected of having devoured Amelia Earhart, an American aviation pioneer, and author.

She was also the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Charles Darwin once described the coconut crabs as “monstrous” creatures when he first saw one for himself.

A fully grown coconut crab weighs eight to nine pounds, and stretches three feet long, and is capable of carrying objects more than six times its own weight.

In the 18th century, there were widespread myths and stories about what these coconut crabs could do.

It was rumored that they could climb trees and dangle from them for hours, holding on by nothing more than a single pincer-like some massive overgrown spider.

Their claws were speculated to be so strong that they could break through a coconut and tear a human being apart, limb by limb.

These stories were too horrifying for Charles Darwin to believe.

Until he saw one for himself, he thought most of what he’d heard were exaggerations.

Researchers have since established that every story about what these horrifying creatures can do is more or less factual.

A Coconut Crab’s Claws Are As Powerful As A Lion’s Jaw

Beyond their spooky looks, the coconut crab’s pincers are some of the most dangerous and most powerful weapons in the animal kingdom.

When these claws clamp down on your leg, it will grip you with as much power as a bite from a lion’s jaw.

Coconut Crabs seldom attack humans with their claws, and as their name suggests, their primary source of food is coconut. They can tear a coconut apart with just their claws with unrivaled strength.

Although coconut crabs don’t use their claws on humans, they can do some terrifying things with those powerful claws.

They can tear apart live pigs, hunt and kill birds, and even feast on the remains of other coconut crabs.



They’re well known for chewing up the dried-up shell of their own dead skin. Nothing is off the menu for these coconut crabs.

A Climbing Killer

With the aid of their powerful claws, these ginormous three feet long crabs can climb any tree.

Their pincers are so powerful that they can hang off anything they can clinch to for several hours, be it the chains in a fence, the walls around a home, or the branches of a tree.

Coconut crabs thrive on islands all over the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Although a dense population of these animals can be found on Christmas Island, they are pretty well anywhere you can find a coconut tree.

They gather their food by climbing to the top of coconut trees and knocking them off to the underground tunnels where they live.

Coconut crabs also climb treetops to attack birds, which are their main prey in some places.

After a visit to an island where birds had learned to live in fear and stayed up at treetops, never daring to touch down onto the ground below where they knew the powerful crabs were always waiting to feast on them, Mark Laidre, a biologist and assistant professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College who has extensively studied the coconut crab described their mode of attack and strategy in horrific detail.

He said:

“In the middle of the night, I observed a coconut crab attack and killed an adult red-footed booby. The booby had been sleeping on a low-lying branch, less than a meter up the tree. The crab slowly climbed up and grabbed the booby’s wing with its claw, breaking the bone and causing the booby to fall to the ground.”

“The crab then approached the bird, grabbing and breaking its other wing. No matter how much the booby struggled or pecked at the hard shell of the crab, it couldn’t get it to let go.”

“Within twenty minutes, five more coconut crabs came to the site, likely cueing in on the blood.”

According to Laidre, the crabs eventually tore the red-footed bird apart as it laid paralyzed.

Each crab then took a hunk of meat or a limb from the dismembered bird’s body back to their barrows where they fed.

Coconut Crabs May Have Torn Amelia Earhart Apart

Natives of the Pacific Islands have reportedly shared stories of their ordeal with these giant crabs.

In search of coconut husks, these islanders would reach their fingers into burrows where coconut crabs live, trying to steal their food.

The unlucky ones often find their fingers caught in the vice-like grips of coconut crabs’ claws.

Although humans are their only predators, coconut crabs don’t attack or hurt people unprovoked.

Research has however, proven that there have been exceptions like in the case of Amelia Earhart.

Some scientists believe that the most horrendous story of all might shed some light on one of history’s great mysteries; the disappearance of Amelia Earhart on July 2, 1937.

Researchers found a fractured skeleton on Nikumaroro Island that had its bones torn apart, limb from limb in 1940.

This fractured skeleton is believed to be the remains of Amelia Earhart – and that she had been torn apart by coconut crabs.

It is believed that Earhart crashed on the Pacific island and was probably left bleeding or dead on its beach.

Like the red-footed booby, Earhart’s blood would have lured the coconut crabs living in the island’s underground burrows.

In a bid to understand what would have happened to her, a team of scientists ran a test in 2007.

They left the remains of a pig at the site where Earhart was believed to have crashed.

Just as they suspected, the crabs crawled out of their burrows and dismembered the pig limb by limb.

Then the crabs towed whatever they could find down to their underground lairs and tore the flesh off of its bones.

Over the years, humans have hunted enough of coconut crabs to turn them into an endangered species.

They have more reason to fear us than we have to fear them.

However, there is no shame in taking flight from a face-to-face fight with a tree-climbing, three-foot-long, a thick-shelled crab that can snap your bones and mutilate your body limb by limb with its claws.

We know we would!

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