Hermit Crabs and Walking Corals

In a recent article in ScienceNews, a new species of hermit crab was revealed to the public. This species, Diogenes heteropsammicola is a unique species of hermit crab which burrows most of its body into a special variety of coral known as the walking coral. This article will discuss the implications of this find, as well as the potential applications for the origins debate.

This new species of hermit crab raises some very interesting possibilities. Walking corals are different than most corals in that they do not attach to the sea floor or any other hard surface. Walking corals are called walking corals because they walk from place to place. However, this movement is not done by the coral. Instead, prior to this discovery, scientists had discovered a type of marine worm, called sipunculan worms, would take up residence in the walking corals. As the worm moves, it drags the coral along with it. The new species of hermit crab does exactly the same thing.  This is mutually beneficial to both the coral and the hermit crab.  The crab gains protection for the particularly soft rear parts of its carapace. The coral gains protection from being buried in the substrate and is transported from place to place. This is an example of a mutualistic symbiotic relationship.

This incredible relationship begins when the hermit crab and the walking coral are both quite young. The walking coral larva attaches to the shell of a young hermit crab and begins to grow around it. When the crab outgrows the shell, which it inevitably does, it simply migrates into the body cavity of the coral. The coral and the hermit crab then grow together until one or both dies. The relationship is permanent.  Neither creature will leave the other until they die.

Under normal circumstances, the discovery of a new species would not have implications for the origins debate. However, evolutionists are intrigued because the hermit crab replaced the sipunculan worms in the walking coral.  This is called a symbiotic shift in evolutionary terminology. Since quite a few variables are unknown, a symbiotic shift is purely suppositional at this point. It is possible that both the sipunculan worms and the hermit crabs are both naturally occurring symbiotes of the walking corals and always have been. This is a likely hypothesis as the sipunculan worm sifts through the sand and debris on the sea floor and the hermit crab picks its food out of the water column. Thus it is probable that the two symbiotes are specialized for certain habitats, the sipunculans for dirty, sandy waters, and the crab for clearer, more nutrient, plankton-rich waters.

This discovery, while fascinating, also raises issues for the evolutionist.  Instead of having to explain the origin of one symbiotic relationship, they must explain the origin of the two. Both papers I read on these intriguing creatures made no mention of how the relationship could have evolved, though both pointed out the obvious adaptations both creatures had in order to fit inside the walking coral.  The hermit crab article went so far as to say:

The extremely slender body of Dheteropsammicola sp. nov. is considered to be an adaptation to life in the narrow, coiled cavity of the walking coral. The corallum cavity fits the slender body of the symbiotic sipunculan and is narrower and more loosely coiled than that of the gastropod shells utilized by most other hermit crabs. Accordingly, Dheteropsammicola has likely evolved its slender body to fit the narrow cavity.

If you boil that all down to a base meaning, the evolutionists are tacitly admitting that the body shape of this newly discovered hermit crab is perfectly suited for the inside of a walking coral, almost as if it were designed to fit it. Evolutionists will never admit this of course, even though the body shape of the hermit crab is much longer and thinner than that of a standard hermit crab. This forces them to answer the question of why a hermit crab would evolve from the certain safety of its mollusk shell to a body type that would not fit in the mollusk shell and thus offer no protection from predators.

It makes far more sense to argue that both the hermit crab and the sipunculan worm were designed in the beginning to live within the walking coral. This, of course, requires a designer, something evolutionists cannot permit, as it would bring down their whole theory.  Thus evolutionists will continue to deny the existence of a designer, even though they tacitly admit to His design in the existence of this new hermit crab species.


Hermit Crab Article

Worm Article

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