Photo of Hermit Crab Using a Human Skull As a Shell Actually Shows Art Sculpture

Does a viral image actually show a real hermit crab using a human skull as a shell? No. A misleading photo purportedly showing a crab using a skull for a shell actually shows a realistic art sculpture.

According to Snopes, the misleading image has been circulating social media since at least July 2015 with the claim that it shows a wandering hermit crab wearing a human skull for a shell. The photo, however, contains neither an actual crustacean nor a real skull. It actually shows a sculpture based on a painting by artist Josh Keyes.

The original painting, created in 2013 by Keyes, features the crab with a skull on its back. In a Facebook post, Keyes shared the story behind his work:

Out of the crashing waves they crawled onto the shore. Hundreds of giant hermit crabs, some encased in rusty appliance and automobile parts, while others found their home in the empty skulls and diving gear of unfortunate crew and passengers. Some stagger under the weight of the peculiar objects on their backs but most scuttle along the shore, looking for food, and occasionally stop to exchange homes with a neighbor. The clack, clang, and clattering sound of bone and metal drifts eerily in the blowing sand.

The piece, titled “Migratory Soul,” was later turned into a sculpture through a collaboration between Keyes and art production company ToyQube. That sculpture, and another one featuring a hermit crab using a diving helmet as a shell, is currently available on ToyQube’s website.

Migratory soul

A post shared by Josh Keyes ( on

While hermit crabs have been photographed wearing some truly terrifying items for shells, a human skull is not one of them. The viral image features an art sculpture, not a real crab using a skull as its shell.

Here are some examples of people sharing the misleading image on social media:

Social Media Shares Misleading Image of Hermit Crab’s Skull Shell Art Sculpture

Have you seen the misleading image of a hermit crab wearing a human skull circulating social media? What are your thoughts on the art sculpture? Sound off in the comments section below!

Author: Erica Abbott

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