There’s a metric fuck tonne of crap news — daily revelations of the evil (and I use that word in its full sense) lodged at the center of American power that continues to add to the tally of human misery. But here I want to talk about assholes of a different stripe. Or species:
Hermit crabs face a uniquely competitive real estate market. They need bigger and bigger shells throughout their lives, but can’t grow these homes themselves. So they rely on castoff snail shells, and are constantly on the lookout for better properties entering the market.
A study that will be published next month in the journal Physica A found that the distribution of these shells in one hermit crab population was surprisingly similar to the distribution of wealth in human societies.
That may make hermit crabs one of the first animals known to experience wealth inequality.
Hermit crabs, perhaps because of their socialist disdain for the possibility of inheriting wealth, do not display quite the extremes of wealth inequality that human societies now display:
The team used a number called the Gini coefficient to measure overall inequality among the crabs. It found a value similar to that in small human populations, though not as great as in today’s large countries. The top 1 percent of hermit crabs owned only about 3 percent of the total shell weight, Dr. Chase and his co-authors noted: “There are no Warren Buffetts or Jeff Bezoses.”
Still, there are similarities:
While smaller crabs don’t exactly inherit their wealth from bigger crabs, the largest shells are a scarce resource that only a few crabs are privileged enough to get their claws on.
Nice to know that we aren’t the only ones wrestling with privilege.
And with that detour into “Ain’t nature grand?” territory, lets have our way with the comments, shall we?
Consider this the Escargot Open Thread.
Image: Follower of Rembrandt, A Hermit Reading, c. 1630