Samurai, Sushi, and Survival of the Fittest

(Why we shouldn’t listen to crabby evolutionists!)

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The Tale of the Heike is considered one of the great classics of medieval Japanese literature. It’s primarily an epic about samurai warrior culture–which ultimately laid the groundwork for Japanese bushido ideology (or what’s known as “the way of the warrior”).

The Heike is roughly divided into three sections. It includes a number of love stories and features some very memorable characters, such as the arrogant, evil, and ruthless central figure of the first section, Taira no Kiyomori, who’s described as so consumed by the fires of hatred that his fevered body won’t cool even while immersed in water after death. Pretty theatrical stuff.

Of course, a good drama usually includes some pivotal action scenes, and The Heike doesn’t disappoint. It includes a central confrontation based in real history, between the imperial rulers of Japan, the Taira clan, and the Minamoto clan, which lead to the famous Battle of Dan-no-ura on April 24, 1185 AD. The ruling Taira clan (also known as the Heike—keep that in mind for later) had ruled Japan for many decades and was led by their child-Emperor Antoku. But being massively outnumbered in this battle, they were soundly defeated.

Now as the legendary part of the story goes, in a climactic moment, seeing their doom was inevitably upon them, General Tokiko, rather than allowing the seven-year-old emperor to be captured by the opposing forces, leaps into the water with him, drowning him, with most loyal members and generals of the Taira clan following them to their death, with honor. Legend says that Antoku later came to be worshipped as Mizu-no-kami—the "god of water," and this is where the tale begins to relate to our real topic, the question of ultimate origins.

The Samurai Crab

You see, Heikeopsis japonica, or what is known as Dorippe, is a species of crab native to Japan. And it has a shell that bears a pattern resembling a human face, which many relate to the face of an angry samurai, hence the nickname “the samurai crab.”

And it was once said that these crustaceans were ghostly reincarnations of the Heike warriors defeated at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, transformed into crabs in that watery grave that each bear the grotesque visage of an armored samurai’s face: the Heike crab. As a matter of fact, in the 1964 Japanese anthology film Kwaidan, the narrator recounts the story of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, and explains the myth, along with some prominent footage of the crabs being illustrated.

Now how does this relate to the issue of Genesis creation vs. the evolutionary story so commonly held to by our culture today? Well, there have been a vast number of iconic but often very misleading and sometimes downright fraudulent evidences used over the years to convince people of the story of evolution.

Peppered moths, Piltdown man, Haeckel’s embryo drawings, the vestigial appendix, etc.: evolutionary “evidences” have come and gone over time, many of them even having been soundly rebutted and thrown out by evolution-believing scientists themselves. But despite this, certain prize horses in the evolutionary “stable of ideas” still persist in textbooks, video programs, and other evolutionary presentations to this day. And oftentimes, even if they are no longer accepted in the mainstream of modern evolutionary thinking, they’re still stuck in people’s minds as being authentic and persuasive, as they never check to see whether they were simply victims of the “fake news” of the day many years ago.

A Lineage of Crabby Naturalists

And the Heike crab is just one-such example of evidence for naturalism that’s persisted in evolutionary lore since 1952, when the grandson of Charles Darwin’s “bulldog” T.H. Huxley, Julian Huxley, published an article titled “Evolution’s copycats.”

His goal was to use an example of natural selection that could be easily understood to explain its ability to cause creatures to adapt, then extrapolate that idea to try and persuade his audience that all of life’s incredible design could be explained naturalistically through evolutionary processes, reinforcing his atheistic views.

Huxley’s original article in Life magazine described how he believed these crabs came by such a striking feature, and his argument was basically as follows: When superstitious Japanese fisherman saw crabs with any likeness to a Samurai’s mask, they threw them back, benefiting crabs with a “face,” resulting in more and more crabs with a more clearly “designed” samurai mask over time.

Interestingly, he reasoned that the resemblance of these crab’s carapace to that of an angry Japanese warrior was far too specific and detailed to be “accidental,” and thus could only have been brought about by means of natural selection operating over many centuries.1 The caption on a Heike crab picture in Huxley’s original article reads:

Superstitious Japanese people do not eat Heike crab because its shell appears to be imprinted with the likeness of a medieval warrior.2

Promoting Pop Science

Now it’s easy to see how this example of “evolution in action” came to be so popular. It’s pretty logical, has an interesting story attached, and has some cool historical details imbedded within it that make it memorable.

Now even though most informed, modern creationists reading this today would likely be yawning at this supposed “proof” of evolution (because they understand natural selection only allows creatures to adapt within limits and doesn’t cause the types of changes that could evolve anything in the particles-to-people sense), many back then bought it as strong evidence for the story of evolution. And its acceptance continued to grow even more, likely because of its being promoted by one of the most prominent evolutionary popularizers of the 1970s: Carl Sagan.

Both in his book and in his Cosmos TV series, Sagan argued like this:

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 this face. 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.3

Well, at the time, this all seemed pretty powerful to many a layperson and science student alike, but as we’re about to see (aside from the historical details about the battle of the two clans), it’s a complete fabrication. But it’s one that many uninformed skeptics still bring up as supposed scientific “proof” of evolution, and a reason to deny the God of the Bible.

As mentioned, even if true, this example of natural selection would be no big deal anyway because natural selection is a process that selects from genetic information already available within the DNA of a creature; whereas what evolution requires is brand new genetic information for never-before-seen forms, functions, and features to arise de novo.

However, it’s still influential among the uninformed because it can help evolutionists make the takeaway 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. They argue design is simply illusionary and can be caused by chance and circumstance given sufficient time.

Huxley actually made this point in his original article by segueing from the samurai crab example to several others, stating:

[T]here are plenty of other equally surprising examples of animals and or plants acquiring a protective resemblance to other animals or plants or to inanimate objects.4

Of course, the astute will realize the deceptive nature of this debate tactic. You simply begin with an example you claim has been proven to therefore “knowing” that several other examples of this must also have happened (which weren’t observed of course). The most incredible thing is, none of that matters anyway because the whole man-crab myth and its related “evidences” are a complete fabrication!

Dissecting the Man-Crab in an Evolutionist’s Lab

Listen to the following quotes5 from Dr. Joel W. Martin analyzing the literature describing the supposed samurai crabs:

Interesting reading, but it isn’t true.

For those evolutionists who’d like to differ, understand this isn’t an idle comment from some “crazy creationist.” Martin’s research as a marine biologist centers on the life histories of decapod and branchiopod crustaceans, and he was Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles.

He’s a committed evolutionist, but his scientific knowledge and argumentation absolutely destroys the main elements of this (mythical—his word) samurai crab story. For starters, the idea that this historical battle began the superstitious process that would have “evolved” the crabs:

[I]t seems likely that the man-crab legend even precedes the date of the battle of Dan-no-ura, and was merely fitted to those events later.

But even more importantly, he points out the anatomical reasons for why crabs have these features, and why they are essential:

The grooves are external indications of supportive ridges, called apodemes, inside the crab’s carapace that serve as sites for muscle attachment. Elevated areas between these grooves allow for an increase in internal space, so that the various parts of a crab’s viscera—gastric, hepatic, cardiac, branchial, etc.—are reflected externally.

So the pattern of ridges on the carapace serves a very functional purpose as sites of muscle attachment. Understanding this, it’s really not surprisingly then, that he notes,

[T]hese ridges and grooves occur in nearly all members of the crab family Dorippidae, whether they live near Japan or not.

So much for the need for samurai “faces” to have evolved these crabs. And to make the point even more destructive to the “superstition” argument is that Martin points out that there are fossil dorippid-type crabs, which evolutionists have to concede predated the samurai warrior caste by thousands upon thousands of years by their own evolutionary timeline! If there were samurai crabs before there were samurai, the story doesn’t make much sense at all!

So, if similar patterns are found on the carapaces of other species and genera throughout the world, including numerous fossil taxa, does this famous evolutionary man-made crab icon have any leg(s) to stand on? According to Dr. Martin, no! To top it all off, he reveals what he calls “most damning to the myth”:

[T]he fishermen who make their living from the Sea of Japan do not eat any of these crabs. Whether they resemble a samurai, a human face, or merely a crab is a moot point; all are thrown back. For Dorippe japonica reaches a maximum size of only 31 mm [1.2 in] across the back, not at all worth the trouble of retrieving from the nets, let alone sorting through to see which ones resemble a face and which do not.

With the “icing on the cake” so to speak (that the fishermen don’t use Heike crabs for food, and as such there is no artificial pressure favoring face-shaped shell patterns when fishermen supposedly examine the crabs they catch), what we’re left with is a complete refutation of all aspects of this manmade-crab myth. Obviously, the fact that these crabs resemble what we think is a samurai is wholly coincidental.

The Moral of This Fishy Story

For those of you like me, who grew up going to state-run schools and watching mainstream media and entertainment, revelations like this should cause us to consider something: The false narratives we often readily recognize on our daily news feeds as driven by ideological motivations rather than truth have been similarly promoted for as long as sinful man has been communicating with each other.

Thomas Huxley was an atheist, which is why he was such an ardent defender of Charles Darwin’s ideas that supported his worldview. He passed those ideas around to those he knew, which apparently carried down to his grandson Julian. This is why Julian promoted the supposed “scientific” story of evolution using the false interpretation of where the Heike crabs and their creepy curvature supposedly came from.

Carl Sagan was also an atheist, and like-seeking-like, he probably grabbed onto what Huxley had published without much of a critical analysis, accepted and promoted it on the platforms he had developed. Along the way, countless numbers of people would have been influenced by these evolutionary ideas and accepted them even more uncritically, believing that “experts,” with far more knowledge than they had, arrived at these conclusions through science rather than ideology.

Rather than sitting back and accepting what “everybody knows is truth,” perhaps more people should be willing to re-examine the foundations of evolutionary thought and realize it is actually an anti-God premise, wrapped in naturalistic philosophy and coated with a thin veneer of scientific credibility. It’s also vigorously promoted by, and protected from, most major institutions from critical scrutiny, which is why people need to do their own analysis rather than being spoonfed “truth” from their governments.

Those that think, as I once did, that “evolution is science and religion is faith” need to understand the origins debate is actually a faith vs. faith argument, because we all have the same facts. It’s simply a matter of whether you are going to put your faith in the infallible truth of God’s Word or the fallible opinions of corrupted mankind.


  1. Julian Huxley, “Evolution’s copycats,” Life, June 30, 1952, 67–76.
  2. Huxley, 1952, 67–76.
  3. Carl Sagan, Cosmos, episode 2: “Heike Crabs.”
  4. Huxley, 1952, 70.
  5. Joel W. Martin, The Samurai Crab, Terra 31, no. 4 (1993): 30–34. (All the other quotes from Martin reflect this source.)

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