■ Calvin Smith
ANUMBER of iconic examples have been used over the years to convince people of evolu- tion’s supposed validity.
Despite them having been soundly
rebutted (some by evolution-believing
scientists as well), certain prize horses
in the evolutionary ‘stable of ideas’
still persist in textbooks and other
A lesser-known but quite sophisticated example has persisted in common
evolutionary lore since 1952, when Julian
Huxley (grandson of Charles Darwin’s
‘bulldog’, T.H. Huxley) published an
article titled ‘Evolution’s copycats’.
His goal was to use an easily
understood example of natural selection in action to explain its undoubted
ability to cause creatures to adapt.
Then he would extrapolate that idea
to try and persuade his audience that
all of life’s incredible design could be
The example came from a humble
species of crab, Dorippe (now Heikea)
japonica. Carl Sagan used this same
example in his 1980 book (and TV
show) Cosmos, which greatly boosted
and popularized it.
These crustaceans have a pattern of
grooves and ridges on their carapace that
resembles the brooding face of a samurai
warrior’s mask. This is why they are
often called ‘samurai crabs’, and therein
lies the intrigue of the illustration.
As the story goes, two feuding clans
in Japan (the Genji or Minamoto, and
the Heike) fought a great naval battle
(Dan-no-ura) in 1185 that ended in decisive defeat for the Heike. According to
legend, the ghosts of the warriors live on
in their watery grave, transformed into
crabs that bear the grotesque visage of
an armoured samurai’s face.
Huxley’s original article in
Life magazine describes how he
believes these crabs came by such a
The resemblance of Dorippe to
an angry Japanese warrior is far
too specific and far too detailed
to be accidental: it is a specific
adaptation which can only have
been brought about by means
of natural selection operating
over centuries of time. It came
about because those crabs with
a more perfect resemblance
to a warrior’s face were less
frequently eaten than the others.
The caption on a Heike crab picture
in Huxley’s article reads:
Superstitious Japanese do not
eat Heike crab because its shell
appears to be imprinted with the
likeness of a medieval warrior.
His argument was easy to grasp.
When superstitious Japanese fisherman saw crabs with any likeness to a
Samurai’s mask they threw them back
but consumed the ones without them.
This would benefit crabs with a ‘face’
and they would multiply, resulting in
crabs with a more clearly ‘designed’
samurai mask over time.
As Carl Sagan put it in his Cosmos
How does it come about that the
face of a warrior is cut on the
carapace of a Japanese crab?
How could it be? The answer
seems to be that humans made
If you’re a crab and your carapace
is just ordinary, the humans are
going to eat you, but if it looks a
little bit like a face, they’ll throw
you back and you’ll be able to
have lots of nice little baby crabs
that all look just like you.
Natural selection is not evolution
Informed creationists reading this
are likely yawning at this point.
Organizations like CMI have demonstrated for years that natural selection,
although it can allow creatures to adapt
within limits, does not cause the types
of changes that could evolve anything
in the particles-to-people sense.
Natural selection is a process that
selects from genetic information already
available within the DNA of a creature;
whereas evolution requires brand new
genetic information for forms, functions,
and features not currently in existence
to arise de novo.
So this example, even if true, would
be no big deal anyway. But it is still
influential among the uninformed. It is
used to help evolutionists make the take-
away point that because this example
of apparent design can be caused by
selection, belief in God is not needed to
explain any so-called design in nature
after all. Design is an illusion caused by
time, chance and circumstance. Huxley
made this point by segueing from the
crab example to many others, stating:
... there are plenty of other
equally surprising examples of
animals and or plants acquiring
a protective resemblance to other
animals or plants or to inanimate
Of course this is simply a deceptive
debating tactic. You go from an example
you claim has been observed to therefore
‘knowing’ of several other examples of
this having happened (which weren’t
observed at all, rather evolutionists
presume that they happened that way).
The man-crab myth
But in any case, as evolutionist Joel W.
Martin said in 1993 of this crab example:
Interesting reading, but it
Martin should know. He is Associate
Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the
JAPANESE DO NOT EAT
HEIKE CRAB BECAUSE
ITS SHELL APPEARS TO
BE IMPRINTED WITH
THE LIKENESS OF A