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The Arthropod Story Table of Contents   

Molting and the exoskeleton: It's not easy being squishy.

Going through a "squishy" stage is much riskier for a large terrestrial animal than a small one! Evolution has produced amazing adaptations — but it cannot sidestep the laws of physics. And the laws of physics make it clear that a large terrestrial animal with no means of protection or body support will deform, have a difficult time moving, and may end up as somebody's lunch. Natural selection would probably act against a large animal that faced so many extra challenges when molting.

A large arthropod is vulnerable when it molts.



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Molting and the exoskeleton: Squishy crabs

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Exoskeleton strength: The physics of failure


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Even for relatively small animals, molting is a hurdle. To find out how they cope, see Making the best of molting.