Sometimes in old books you come across a strange image of an animal that you are either unfamiliar with or it is doing something odd that draws your attention. Today's subject is one such beast: the palm crab. Honestly I don’t know a great deal about the ways of land crabs other than from all those natural history programmes that see them crawling all over Christmas Island. I remember them mostly as climbing over railway lines or getting squashed by cars, certainly doing nothing similar to this beast.
The picture comes from a rather charming 1889 book The Savage World; it features many interesting animals, some long gone such as the passenger pigeon and the great auk, while others like the quagga and thylacine are just missing, awaiting rediscovery, or in the case of the quagga, resurrection through selective breeding. Why then, with such luminaries present, does this crab stand out from the crowd? Well, it’s the nature of the picture, it’s a hunting scene and this particular crab is hunting goat. Yes, goat. Not something you would expect to see in the claws of a crab and certainly not when you consider that the crab is hauling the goat into the tree. Could such a sight have ever occurred?