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Meet Moana's Villain: The Giant Coconut Crab

Tomatoa, the kleptomaniacal villain in Disney’s “Moana,” is a surprisingly accurate representation of real-life coconut crabs — minus the singing.

When Disney’s "Moana" hit theaters, audiences obviously fell in love with the courageous story of a girl who followed her heart to save her island.


But they also fell in love with the movie’s countless animal stars — from the cute ...



... to the cuter ...



But one of the movie’s breakout stars melted fewer hearts. In fact, it probably terrorized them.


Meet Tamatoa the coconut crab.



The villainous Tamatoa steals one of Maui’s prized possessions and refuses to return it, jeopardizing Moana’s entire quest.


He proceeds to sing a Bowie-inspired but drippingly evil ode to his kleptomaniacal tendencies, called “Shiny.”


But any crustacean enthusiast would know that Tamatoa’s thieving habits are far from fiction. Like Tamatoa, the character’s real-life counterpart is absolutely huge, hostile and will steal your belongings.

Growing up to 3 feet long, coconut crabs are actually the largest terrestrial arthropods. They live on archipelagos in the Polynesian islands and feed mainly on fruit and smaller crabs like hermit crabs, which actually represent some of their closest relatives.




The coconut crab gets its name from its favorite kind of fruit, the hard-shelled husky coconut. But cracking open these meals is no small task, even for a crab with giant pincers. The crab scrapes away at the sides of a coconut until it can pierce through to the center.

It’s slow but impressive. The coconut crab's other favorite snacks include decaying animals, other coconut crabs and even its own exoskeleton. It also earned the nickname “robber crab” due to its habit of stealing silverware and assorted dishware.




Coconut crabs can live up to 120 years, terrorizing kitchens, devouring rats and slashing coconuts on an island near you.

All of these completely, 100-percent-factual traits make the coconut crab the perfect pick for a Polynesian Disney villain. If scientists announced the crabs were deep and throaty singers, we’d be inclined to believe them.





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