Singing and dancing in the ghost crab Ocypode platytarsus (Crustacea, Decapoda, Ocypodidae)

David Clayton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Male ghost crabs, Ocypode platytarsus, have the most elaborate visual and acoustic/vibrational display so far described in the genus. In common with other species, rapping as a result of hitting the ground with the major cheliped produces rap trains with a variable number of elements. Ocypode platytarsus also produces faster and longer rap trains by drumming with both chelipeds. Additionally, at the approach of a wandering crab, a dance display is also performed. The display begins with the crab rearing up on outstretched legs. Rapid stepping on the spot leads to swift sideways movements that increase in complexity with the longest ones being full circling movements around the wanderer. The display generates an auditory/vibrational sound that is distinct from that produced by the chelipeds. Longer rap trains and drumming events occur in close association with, or following dance displays, but usually when the wanderer is moving away. At other times, rap trains with fewer than ten elements are produced. These observations are discussed in relation to the possible interaction of the three communication channels that are available to the Ocypodinae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-155
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Natural History
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Auditory
  • Construction
  • Display
  • Ghost crab
  • Ocypode platytarsus
  • Ocypodidae
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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