Individual laterality in ghost crabs (Ocypode saratan) influences burrowing behavior

Reuven Yosef, Michal Daraby, Alexei Semionovikh, Jakub Z. Kosicki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Behavioral handedness is known to enhance an individual’s handling capabilities. However, the ecological advantages in brachyuran crustaceans remain unclear, despite the Ocypode species having been studied extensively. Thus, in this study, we analyzed the laterality of the endemic Red Sea ghost crab on one beach in Eilat, Israel. We successfully documented the laterality of the large cheliped in 125 crabs; in 60 (48.0%), the right cheliped was larger, and in 64 (51.2%), the left. We also observed temporal segregation between the right- and left-clawed crabs. The right-handed crabs start activity just after sunrise, while left-handed crabs appear ca. 40 min after it. Similarly, temporal segregations were also observed in the evening. The right-clawed crab activity peaked ca. 20 min before sunset, while the left-clawed crabs were active uniformly. Additionally, burrow entrances corresponded to the larger cheliped of the resident individual and is probably a self-defense-related behavior. We conclude that cheliped laterality in O. saratan populations should be considered as a bimodal trait, where left- and right-handedness is not under natural selection pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1512
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Behavior
  • Burrowing
  • Claw
  • Diurnal
  • Ghost crab
  • Laterality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematics (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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