Carl Sagan and the Samurai Crabs


Heikegani with human-like faces depicted in an ukiyo-e print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Legend has it that a variety of crabs contain the ghosts of a drowned samurai army -- and each bears a grimacing warrior face on their backs to prove it. But what can we really gather from this biological peculiarity? In the book and TV series “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan argued that it presented a case of artificial selection, but critics disagree. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion of the Heikegani.

Related Content:

Animal Lies: Six Tales of Mimicry and Deception (podcast)

The Mystery of Crab Boxing (podcast)

Sword of the Samurai (podcast)

Outside Content:

'Cosmos' clip: The Heike Crabs (YouTube)

How Carl Sagan Worked (How Stuff Works)

Topics in this Podcast: myth, biology, evolution, Carl Sagan, Japan, crabs