THE DEEP-SEA PHANTOM CRAB
• Scientic name: Phasma carcinus (Latin for ghostly crab)
• Diet: Plankton, tubeworms, mussels, and microbes
• Size: 9-10 inches (female), 7-8 inches (male)
Deep-sea phantom crabs are found in the benthic, oceanic, aphotic, bathypelagic zones. This zone is characterized by high pressures, feezing temperatures, high salinity, and no sunlight. The deep-sea phantom crab manages to survive these harsh conditions with a combination of useful traits, such as large eyes, small, compact size, minimal skeletal structure, slow metabolism, and bioluminescense.
As a benthic creature, the crab scuttles around on four legs, searching for whatever scarce food is available around deep-sea vents. They use their strong claws to handle and move food towards the mouth, and then use strong mandibles to crush and consume it.
The deep-sea phantom crab is almost completely transparent, and emits a greenish-blueish glow from its bioluminescent skeletal structure. Its transparent body protects it from catching the attention of predators, while its bioluminescent bones shine through so it can see potential prey.
Like most crabs, the deep-sea phantom crab has a tough, thick shell to protect it from hungry predators, as well as powerful pincers to fight against attacks from other animals. To ensure the continuance of the species, the phantom crab reproduces by laying eggs. To fertilize the eggs, the male crab carries the female on his back for up to three days, in which he deposits his sperm on her abdomen.
The deep-sea phantom crab is an aquatic crab, which means they use gills to breathe underwater, similar to fish. These gills are located under their first pair of legs. To breathe, the crab brings water over their gills using a thin appendage called a scaphognathite, which then withdraws oxygen into the bloodstream.