Today we are going to study a little sea feller known as the Sacculina carcini, a flea-like shapeshifter that enslaves crabs.
The Sacculina really is a perfect example of Intelligent Design. If man was made in the Lord’s image, then the Sacculina was made in the image of the Holy Ghost. It can literally shed its corporeal form, and inject its parasitic spirit into a crab to feast on its host’s soul.
Here’s what a typical Sacculina life looks like: A female parasite starts out as a tiny translucent sea insect. With sharp claw-wings outstretched, it almost looks like a flea angel as it floats along, sniffing the seafloor for a crab to invade. When it does, the Sacculina flaps over and lands on its host’s shell. It scuttles around looking for a soft spot—a joint or hair follicle pore—to penetrate with the massive spike-dong hanging between its legs. As soon as it finds just the right spot, the Sacculina drills a hole clear through the crab’s carapace, sucks its own jelly innards out of its chitinous shell and injects itself inside the crab, like a coagulated glob of fat from a turkey baster. The crab barely feels the little sting that marks the end of its own existence.
Once inside, the Sacculina hooks its tendrils up to the crab’s digestive system and wraps them around the crustacean’s primitive brain. Then it settles in the abdomen and starts growing, slowly filling out, until it gets so big that it breaks through the shell and pops out of the crab’s belly, exposing a lumpy vagina made for only one thing: to pop out more squishy reproductive sacks just like itself.
Now it’s ready to be fertilized. A Sacculina can take two males at a time, gobbling them up as they enter its fallopian tubes to squirt their parasite juice all over her eggs.
When a Sacculina gets impregnated, it becomes more demanding. To grow its eggs, it needs all the energy it can suck out of its crab host without killing it. And the crab is happy to oblige. It doesn’t get suicidal, and doesn’t try to bash its head on a rock. No, the crab has become the perfect slave, adopting its master’s needs as its own. The more the Sacculina takes, the more subservient the crab becomes, working overtime to feed its little overlords. The crab stops its molting process altogether, meaning that it no longer increases in size. Nor does it regrow lost limbs or claws. The crab just wanders around, haggard and tired, eating to feed the little Sacculinas quickly growing on its belly.
The Sacculina is so thoroughly in control, it has the power to turn male crabs into females—and that it does. Tweaking a man crab’s hormonal mix, the parasite widens its host’s abdomen to make it more feminine and better equipped to carry its young. When the eggs start popping out, it convinces the male that it is a chick—a pregnant chick—and that the eggs it carries contain little crablings. And so this poor sucker climbs on rocks and bobs up and down to help the little parasite zygotes break free and float away in safety, which is what female crabs do with their young.
The Sacculina isn’t some freak occurrence. Half of some crab populations carry the parasite, living out their short lives in the service of pus-colored vaginas.
Aren’t God’s creations beautiful things to behold?
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