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Coconut Grab

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Coconut Grab
The Coconut Grab, Nuctoceras litureperus, is an unusual acanthocertoid ammonite that crawls onto land to eat coconuts, similar to a robber crab, in The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution. It is found along the shorelines of tropical islands in Oceania and near Irian. A major predator of it is the shorerunner.

Scattered across the vast Pacific Ocean that covers almost half the globe, is a multitude of islands. These are not fragments of any continent, but have grown completely independently of Gondwana. They have appeared mainly through volcanic action, where an underwater volcano has reached the surface and cooled. The flanks of these islands are further extended by reefs built up by corals and other sea creatures. Belonging to no recognized zoogeographic realm, this array of islands is described here as part of the Australasian ecozone.

Coconut Grab 2

The coiled shell of the coconut grab is flat on the bottom, providing a skid-like surface that allows it to be dragged over the sand. There are eight tentacles. The four at the rear are broad and very muscular. They are used for pulling the animal over the ground and up coconut palms. The front four tentacles are long and delicate, allowing the ammonite to reach for a coconut. The eyes can focus both submerged and out of the water. Coconut grabs usually come ashore at night when it is cooler, and dawn finds the beach crisscrossed by their distinctive trails.

At the same time as the dinosaurs developed to be the most significant animals on Earth, other creatures evolved to dominate the seas. A group of animals of some importance were the ammonites, cephalopods that were encased in coiled shells, dating back to the Devonian. The shells consist of empty air chambers that can be used by the animal to regulate its buoyancy. The ammonites evolved into many shapes and sizes during the Mesozoic period and are commonly found as fossils in rocks that date from that time. The coconut grab is an unusual ammonite in that it can spend much of its time out of the water crawling about on land. On many of the tropical islands of the Pacific it can crawl up the beach and eat coconuts, and even climb trees to find the nuts when there are none available lying in the sand or washed up on the shore.

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