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2017-10-12

Found in candy-striped shades of pink, yellow, or red, Hoplophrys oatesi is a very tiny crab that grows to a length of 1.5 to 2 cm. It mimics the colors of the polyps of soft coral (Dendronephthya) it lives among, blending in even further by plucking off polyp fronds with its tiny claws and adhering them to its spiny carapace. They feed on plankton throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

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Because of its vivid coloring H. oatesii has been dubbed the Candy Crab, but has also been called Brachyura Crab, Spider Crab, True Crab, Commensal Soft Coral Crab, Dendronephthya Crab, Oate's Soft Coral Crab, Soft Coral Crab, and Soft Coral Spider Crab. They are considered true crabs, since they have a short abdomen, four walking legs, and a front pair of clawed arms. A lone species in the monotypic genus Hoplophrys, these crabs were named after the man who discovered them: Eugene W. Oates, a British ornithologist working in Burma in the late 1800s for the Public Works Department of the government of India.

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