[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
IS an amphibious animal; living on land and in water. The common Crab obtains various sizes, some weighing several pounds and others not one ounce, all of different species. They move not forward, but on one side as it suits them best. They have no tail, which is a considerable and essential difference between them and the lobsters, prawns, shrimps, and the cray fish.
The Violet Crab of the Caribbees Islands is most singular for his habits; and their annual and regular caravans descending in order from the mountains, their natural abode, down to the sea shores, in order to bring forth their young, excites our curiosity but may be easily accounted for. This marine insect seems to have deserted for some unknown causes, the oozy bottom of the deep, and preferred the verdant summit of grassy mountains; yet unable to bring up his offspring on dry land, he comes back to what seems to have been his original destination, to the salt water, and after having performed the duty imposed upon him by nature, returns by choice to those haunts where he perhaps finds himself more secure from the voracity of the sea-tyrants. They form, in their stately procession, a body of fifty paces broad, wheeling along, three miles in depth. This battalion moves slowly but with regularity and uniformity, either when they descend or ascend the hills. They abound in Jamaica, where they are accounted as a great delicacy by the natives, and are common in adjacent islands.
The Crab has been admitted to the honour of being one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, under the name of Cancer, in allusion to the apparent retrograde motion of the sun from the highest degree of its northern declension.