The Living Fossil

By: Aiden Funk

Have you ever had a vaccine like a flu shot or have you ever had your pet have a rabies vaccination? You can thank the Horseshoe Crab for that. These horrifying creatures are important because without them a lot of people and pets would get sick to the point of death.

Blue Blood

Horseshoe crabs do not have hemoglobin in their blood. Instead they have he moccasin because of the copper present in the hemocyanin. In a result their blood is blue. The blood is not just call because it is blue it actually has lots of uses. The blood contains amebocytes which plays a role similar to white bloods cells of vertebrates in defending the organism against pathogens. The blood is used in medical applications . Therefore the Horseshoe crab blood is harvested for a purpose. Horseshoe crab blood is used in a lot of vaccines like the flu shot and rabies vaccinations that your give to your pets. So you probably have a fare share of Horseshoe crab blood inside of you. You should thank the Horseshoe crabs for giving their blood to your family and your pets. But the only problem is that Horseshoe crab blood is very expencive at a staggering $15,000. In most circumstances when taking the blood out of a Horseshoe crab they only take a fraction of the blood and put the Horseshoe crabs back into the sea. Most of the Horseshoe crabs survive in this process. This is so they don't kill off all the Horseshoe crab population. First the people capture the Horseshoe crabs and put them on a boat or catch them in a net. Then they clean them off and put them in a bucket. After that they strap the Horseshoe crabs to a wall so they can't move. After that the workers cut off the tail of the Horseshoe crabs and put a straw inside the Horsecrabs body to get the blood out. Horseshoe crabs are important because their blood is very useful. Horseshoe crab blood fight bacteria. Only 1/3 of blood is taken out of a Horseshoe crab. People take blood out of half a million Horseshoe crabs a year. The whole process of catching the Horseshoe crab, taking the blood out the Horseshoe crab, and releasing the Horseshoe crabs takes from 24 hours to 72 hours.

Horseshoe crab eggs

Female Horseshoe crabs can lay from 60,000 to 120,000 eggs at a few thousand at a time. I guess that why Horseshoe crabs have been around for 450 million years. There is so many eggs but only 10 Horseshoe crabs survive to be a adult that is a average of .0001% of being a adult if you are a Horseshoe crab. It takes about 5 weeks for a Horseshoe crab egg to hatch but it also depends on the temperature.

A Horseshoe crab swims upside down in a 30° angle

How old do you think I am?

Horseshoe crabs are actually 450,000,000 years old. No wonder they are called the Living Fossils! That is the 4th longest animal that has lived on earth. That is also 200 million years longer than dinosaurs! Horseshoe crabs can live up to a little over 20 years.

Horseshoe crab features

Horseshoe crabs have 10 legs. The legs are used to walk, swim, and to help shove food into their mouths. The female Horseshoe crabs are actually bigger than the males. Horseshoe crabs have 2 main eyes with 7 secondary eyes, that is 9 eyes in total! Horseshoe crabs have a stingray like tail. Most people think the tail stings but it is completely harmless. They can be from 2.2 pounds to 9.9 pounds.

Horseshoe crab habitats

Horseshoe crabs live in shallow water in east India, Japan, Indonesia, the eastern USA, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Flipping Horseshoe crabs

Turning a Horseshoe crab over can stress them out to the point of death. In the wild they are eaten by birds that flip them over. Turning them over makes them think that they are going to die. You should always leave them right side up. This becomes a problem because people like picking up Horseshoe crab upside down. If upside down a Horseshoe crab can use its tail to flip them back to right side up.

Types of Horseshoe crabs

Eating a Horseshoe crab?

Chitin is a substance found in exoskeletons of Horseshoe crabs and other arthropods like lobsters, crabs, shrimps, spiders, beetles, and even mosquitos. Chitin is non-toxic and biodegradable. Chitin is a ingredient in consumer products such as contact lenses, skin creams, and even toothpaste. Are Horseshoe crabs good to eat? The answer to that question is a big fat no. But Native Americans ate a lump of meat in the Horseshoe crab abdomen. Also Native Americans used Horseshoe crab tails for spears for hunting and fishing.

I told you a lot of information about Horseshoe crabs, but why should we care? Horseshoe crabs have been around for 450 million years but they are becoming endangered, how? People need to stop flipping Horseshoe crabs and stop fishing with them. Some people don't realize that their part of the problem. If you ever see a Horseshoe crab at the beach that is upside down it is easy as flipping the Horseshoe crab back over. You might not realize it but you are helping the Horseshoe crabs a lot.