As his friend slowly moved away from Mark and the creature, he stammered, "Don't move, dude."
Mark slowly put his phone down and spun around, confused by his friend's reaction. He caught sight of another claw swinging toward him out of the corner of his eye. It was enormous and covered in sharp spikes. At the sight of them, his heart began to race. What in the world were they?
It was another beautiful morning for 32-year-old, Mark Pierrot, as he got ready to go on a hike with his friend, David. They planned to find a secret hot spring hidden within the Christmas Island National Park.
For as long as Mark could remember, he loved to explore nature. However, he had no idea that one day his passion would lead him to this shocking discovery.
Despite its winter-themed name, Christmas Island is actually a small tropical island in the Indian Ocean, between Indonesia and Australia.
Mark moved to the island three years ago, adding one more person to its population of about 1,400 people. He didn’t initially intend to stay for long, but he fell in love with the place. Little did he know, the incredible secret it was hiding.
Mark woke up early to another beautiful sunny day on Christmas Island. He got dressed and poured coffee, already looking forward to the fun Saturday he had planned with David.
He quickly ate breakfast and left with his bag packed and his face beaming. He was completely unaware that his day wouldn’t turn out quite like he had planned it in his head.
The Adventure Begins
As soon as Mark met David, they headed out on their adventure to find the hot spring that the locals told them about.
It was the island’s best-kept secret and only the people who stayed on the island long enough were told about its location. Mark saw it as a right of passage but there was nothing right about what he’d soon encounter.
It was about an hour into their walk when Mark first saw something blocking their path. They were walking through the coastline path that was flanked by vegetation and trees on both sides.
At first, he thought it was just a big boulder, but as he got closer, the huge shape quickly scurried away. That thing was no rock.
Mark stood frozen in wonder. What on earth did he just witness? He looked to David who seemed to be completely oblivious to what just happened.
With his curiosity peaking, Mark followed suit. He needed to see what that thing was or if his imagination was just running wild. But he should have stayed put.
When he finally caught up with it, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Its big, boulder-like shell stuck out against the foliage like a sore thumb. Its striking colors were like nothing he had ever seen before. The creature resembled a crab but Mark knew that this was no ordinary crab.
Still, overcome with curiosity, he approached the strange creature.
Its shell was a mesmerizing display of colors. It had hues of orange, red, blue, and black, and its huge legs grew out from its body like a show of strength.
Mark crept closer and closer until he was right next to the creature. With astonishment, he saw small sharp spikes line its legs, and that’s when it clicked. Mark’s eyes popped as he realized what he might have found.
Making The Connection
The prehistoric crab dates back to 95 million years ago. Mark remembered reading about their extinction when he was younger but more importantly, he remembered their strange features.
Mark looked at the crab again and took note of its huge size, bent claws, its big eyes that had no sockets, and its leg-like mouth. His heart started to pound.
In 2019, scientists in America, discovered a fossil of this prehistoric crab. Its species is called Callichimaera perplexa, which translates to "perplexing beautiful chimera." This is due to its vibrant colours and unique appearance.
Mark immediately whipped out his phone to take a picture of it. Was he really witnessing the reappearance of a lost species? There was only one way to find out.
Staring In Shock
Sensing the creature was harmless, Mark bent down on his hunkers and called for his friend. David soon appeared out from the bushes. “I’ve been looking for...you”, he said as he took in the huge beast.
“What on earth is that?”, David said. Without thinking, Mark threw him his phone and asked him to take a picture. What he did next would shock the world.
Picking It Up
Mark swiftly picked up the giant crab with his bare hands and posed with the mysterious creature that suddenly seemed so gentle. But Mark had no idea what he was dealing with.
Sure he had found a long lost species, if not the ancient Callichimaera perplexa, he immediately called the National Park center. That’s when the interest in this beast really started to build.
Crab expert Max Orchard spent over 22 years on Christmas Island National Park working with world-leading researchers on the variety of crab found on Christmas Island.
You see, Christmas Island was something of an anomaly when it came to the numerous different species of crab that lived there. For Orchard, discovering a new species on Christmas Island really wasn't too far-fetched.
De-extinction Or Endangered
From his profession, Orchard knew that de-extinction was possible. Also known as species revivalism, this is the process where scientists can generate an organism that either resembles or is an extinct species.
If this wasn't a case of de-extinction, Mark could have found a rare and endangered species. Although it's easy to think humans have discovered every creature on earth, that's simply, and sometimes surprisingly, not the case.
Mark hung up the phone and posted his picture online with the caption “anybody know what this is?”. But as he was typing, David nervously began to call out to him.
“Don’t move, dude”, David choked. Confused by his reaction, Mark looked around. Sure enough, he saw the cause of David’s distress. Just behind his foot, another 3-meter claw swung into his vision.
Its unexpected presence gave Mark a sudden fright and he dropped his phone. Mark stepped back in astonishment at not only finding one of these species but two! Were they in danger?
Mark reasoned with himself that the creatures were friendly and decided to stay with them and wait in nervous anticipation for the crab expert, Max Orchard to arrive. Did he really find a long-forgotten creature?
When Max Orchard came to the scene, Mark pointed him to the creatures that remained resting beside him.
With a smile, Max Orchard told Mark that he knew exactly what they were. They were Coconut crabs, a species of crab that have lived on Christmas Island for decades. But Mark picked one up - are they dangerous?
Looking For Something
“The biggest one I’ve seen is about 4.5kg in weight, and about one meter across,” Orchard said, “No one really knows for sure how old they are. The 2-3 kg crabs are about 50 years old”.
He told Mark that they are a gigantic cousin to the water-based hermit crab that we all know and love. Then he asked Mark to show him his hands.
Although many people wouldn’t have dared to pick up one of these giant crabs, they are actually friendly giants. Orchard made sure that Mark didn’t have any cuts, otherwise, a tetanus shot may be required. As with all cuts you may get from wildlife.
Although Mark’s hands were fine, Orchard did warn him of something else.
Orchard told him that they have a tendency to steal. He pointed to his phone which was now firmly within the claws of one of the crabs.
Gently, Orchard grabbed his phone from the unassuming thief and explained their odd behavior to steal and crush whatever unfortunate locals and tourists may leave behind.
A Notorious History
Over the years, Orchard had responded to numerous reports of theft in the park. “When I first went to Christmas Island in the early ’90s, the army came over to do some training on the island. They had just been issued with new Steyr rifles with these plastic butts”, Orchard explained.
“I got a call from the commanding officer who said someone had been out there and stolen one of their rifles”. The culprit?
A.K.A The Robber Crab
You guessed it - the coconut crab (aka the robber crab)! They found the missing Steyr rifle sometime later. The crabs dragged it off and crushed it.
There have been a number of reports of these crabs stealing shoes and cameras of tourists and locals that pass through and carelessly drop their things or leave them behind. This peculiar behavior becomes especially funny once you learn their age.
Coconut crabs are not only the largest land-based crabs on earth but they are also the longest-living! They can easily live up to 120 years old so it is very likely that the crab Mark picked up was older than he was!
Although they’re not dangerous, their claws can still cause harm. But Mark was lucky...
Right Of Passage
Mark left the encounter completely unscathed. He also wondered why the locals didn’t tell him to watch out for them. When he asked, they said that they wanted him to find out more about the island himself.
It wasn’t long before Mark’s post of his exciting find gained attention online.
Mark’s picture of the mysterious and unique beast caused quite a stir online. If you didn’t live on Christmas Island or have an interest in crabs, you would have never guessed what Mark was holding.
Many believed, just as Mark did, that he had found a completely new species. Although, Mark didn't find a rare creature, perhaps this next man did...
When he saw the look on the vet’s face, he knew he wasn’t overreacting. The shock was evident on the faces all around him.
People whipped out their phones and snapped as much proof as possible. There was no way others would believe this unless they saw it with their own eyes.
Nathen ran a tight ship, at least when it came to cleanliness. There was nothing worse than seeing garbage pile up around the neighbor's yards.
However, when the sanitation workers went on strike, and the stinky bags started to multiply, he felt like he would have a heart attack. But his problems were just beginning.
The rotting food stench was mostly held back by the hefty layer of plastic, but some still oozed out and filled the garage with a pungent stench.
No amount of air sprays or scented candles could make the smell go away. It was a week into the strike when he began to notice something furry - and moving.
Imagining The Worst
Immediately, he imagined the worst-case scenario. What if the trash was hiding a family of raccoons that were waiting patiently to jump out at him and make his life hell, or even worse, rats?
A number of rodent-infested scenarios came to mind as he avoided confronting his trash for as long as he could. But things always have a way of coming to the surface...
Nathan knew no kind of mold growth could bloom and take on sentient life. But considering the evidence before him, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that something very unusual was buried inside his trash.
Given the lack of noise, Nathan speculated that the dirty fur that peeped through the trash pointed to the nightmare of a rat infestation. However, he wasn't even close to identifying the real culprit.
Nathan asked his neighbors if any of them were struggling with rodents, and as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one suffering. Even the cleanest neighbors had noticed the increase in vermin.
The best solution, at least for him, was to pepper the area with mouse traps. He was hoping that would be enough to lure them out for good, but that’s where he ran into a problem.
He took out an old cardboard box where he stored his mouse traps. All he had to do was grab them but it was a box full of random junk.
Taking out an old doll his niece was to love, he wondered why he kept hold of all these useless things. Finally, he found a bunch of traps and started to get to work. Completely unaware that this would be a wasted effort.
Out Of Control
Nathan wanted this mysterious creature, which he hoped was just a rat to come out on its own accord. He really didn't want to wrestle with the trash.
So, he set up an intricate network of traps and laced them with cheese and any other tempting food he could find. He was barely in bed that night when he heard the first snap. He dreaded what the morning would bring.
That morning, he hoped he'd wake up to a garage restored once again to its former glory. Sure, the trash would still be there but the unsettling living thing in there would be gone.
He poured himself some coffee and tried to eat breakfast but the anticipation of what was to come made his stomach queasy. Soon, the mystery behind the trash was to be revealed.
What's Going On?
Nathen gripped his old baseball bat and opened the door. But what he saw scattered around the concrete was confusing.
Plenty of traps had been set off, but no rats were in sight. In the middle of the large pile of sweating bags, he heard a strange sound. But this time, it certainly wasn’t the squeak you would expect from your everyday vermin.
It was a muffled, gurgling growl. Nathen hoped the sentient trash hadn’t fused with a rat to make some new monstrosity.
He pulled each bag away as slowly as he could, otherwise, the disturbing growls would start up again. When the last blockage fell away, he jumped back and braced himself for an attack.
In Plain View
The pile of fur was now left exposed in his garage. Nathan's eyes squinted as he realized it wasn't a rat. This thing was way too big. For a second he wondered if it was actually just trash. But then it moved.
Nathan could just about make out that it had a snout. It was definitely some kind of animal but he had no idea what. He had never seen anything like this before.
Dirt And Fur
Now, the grey and black matted fur twisted and twitched as it tried to get away.
Every part of Nathen’s neat-freak personality screamed to run away. There was no way he would pick up whatever that was. It was disgusting! But then the sounds changed to something he recognized.
What was it?
The confused ball of dirty fur attempted to run circles around Nathan but it was no use. Its big and heavy fur covered its entire body.
Nathan plugged his nose at the stench before realizing that he had to catch the thing. Without further thought, he reached down his hands and quickly snatched a handful of fur in his hand. What was it?
Drive To The Vet
Nathan lay out a bunch of towels in his backseat, rolled down his windows, and made his way to the vet. Whatever this creature was, it needed to get checked out.
As he drove, he wondered how long it had been living in his trash. Certainly, since the strike, he thought. He couldn't wait to see the vet shave off all its fur to reveal its real form!
It wasn't long before they reached the vet. And now, the long, high-pitched meows became stronger. It was the sound that instantly changed the scene.
Instead of calling pest control, he quickly dialed the closest veterinarian. It was perhaps out of his own curiosity, but he wanted to see what they were going to do with it. Was it a wild animal?
The vet team gaped and snapped photos of the growling cat. The enamors mass of fur was mostly comprised of common fur matts.
Nathan’s face went slack as they clipped away over seven pounds of fur and revealed what the cat actually looked like. Its appearance left Nathan stunned.
It was clearly a street cat, and a beautiful one at that. The easy food and warm surroundings in Nathen’s garage must have attracted it.
But when the last layers of fur fell away, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The feline was pure white! The transformation took another step after a thorough bath.
The vet had never seen anything like this. The story was truly hard to believe. What was also perplexing was the cat's relaxing demeanor. It's like it knew it was getting help.
Usually, stray cats are aggressive and wild but this cat seemed to have a liking for humans. Nathan asked the vet to check it for a microchip. Perhaps if it actually had an owner, he could reunite them.
However, when the vet checked the cat for a microchip, there wasn't any. The vet speculated that perhaps this cat used to live in a home but had long since been abandoned.
Nathan refused to give up just yet. He put up a post in his local area and asked if anyone had been missing a cat. But no one responded. The search for the potential owners of this stray was coming to an end. That's when Nathan began to think of something else...
The cat had a resting grumpy face that made it look perpetually angry, but the moment Nathen reached out to it, the cat jumped in for every scrap of attention.
It seemed the little thing wasn’t only starving for food but also, for love. A sudden, shocking idea popped into Nathen’s head, something he would have never thought possible.
Pets meant stray fur and weird smells. It went against every fiber of Nathan's neat freak soul. But with each passing day, he was finding this cat harder and harder to resist.
There he stood, cuddling the now-white cat and wondering if he should just take it home himself and give it a better life. It had gone through life so dirty, maybe he could help in his own weird way.
Good To Go
Nathan spoke to the vet about his idea of adopting the cat and asked if there's anything he needed to worry about. This cat had just come from the streets after all.
The vet checked if the cat was neutered and gave him some flea medication and said he should be good to go. He also gave him a leaflet called, "My First Cat: An Essential Guide".
The vet held onto the cat for another couple of days and then he was good to go. Nathan got a crate and the vet packed in the adorable cat with a sweet goodbye.
Before he knew it, Nathan was driving home with “Sinbad” nestled in his new, shiny crate. He couldn't quite believe the way this little cutie arrived in his life.
Yes, things wouldn’t be pristine at home anymore, but since he was getting something special in return, it was totally worth with. Sinbad would never know that dirty life again.
They quickly became the dream team. Nathan had no idea how lonely he actually felt before Sinbad came into his life. And as it turned out, he wasn't actually that dirty after all!
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.