Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Close Encounter of the Third Kind

I saw this horseshoe crab at the fish market last week. It was still alive even though it has been sitting on ice for hours on the display case. I have never seen one up close before so I was totally intrigued.

Horseshoe crabs, despite the name, are more closely related to scorpions and spiders than regular crabs. They have remained almost unchanged since 500 million BC and are therefore, considered living fossils. One reason these animals are so resilient is their ability to prevent bacteria infection in their bodies. Scientists are currently studying their immunity system to find ways to understand and hopefully, one day replicate its mechanism for human use.

18 comments:

Belinda said...

I've seen these in Malaysia a couple of times, but never knew what they were called.

They look so prehistoric in real life.

Prokur said...

How big is horseshoe crab? It is looking frightful :/

Vincent Colignon said...

So let me comment it a bit...

What you see in the picture is the ventral face of the Horseshoe Crab (Limulus). It has 5 pairs of legs and a pair of little grips. Between these grips there is the ventral eye. Beneath you can see like a shutter, it's his gills.

Like Ming said, the very interesting fact about HorseshoeCrab is that they are very resistant to bacterias. That's why they're still on earth after 500 Millions Years.

Well i didn't know we could eat them ? I wonder if they taste good ? So Ming did you try ?

stilettoheights said...

um...really there should be a crab warning....I hate anything with pinchers, now my neighbors probably thing I am being murdered as I screamed when I saw this.

Rafe Totengco said...

this is an amazing bit of trivia and that photo gives me goose bumps.

Olivier said...

waouhh...merci pour cette leçon, je ne connais pas, est ce que c'est bon ?


waouhh… thank you for this lesson, I do not know, is what it is good?

Ming_the_Merciless said...

prokur - It was about 12 inches in diameter. It was quite huge.

vincent - I think they were put there for decoration only.

stilletoheights - One of my friends had a date once and the date ordered lobster on the shell. She was horrified because she had never eaten a lobster with the shell on. :-)

belinda, rafe & olivier - Thanks for visiting. Merci beaucoup.

Per Stromsjo said...

I wouldn’t be too sure about what occurred 500 million years ago but why change a working design? Obviously it’s been around for a while so the model has been tested and proven... :)

Carlos said...

Yeah I remember this from Biology books, I gave me the creeps but I like it.

The Toronto Team said...

I clicked on your site because the portal shows a photo of your adorable little French bulldog...but i got this instead.Not quite as cute and cuddley, but great shot anyway. I saw one of those washed up on the beach in Cape Cod when I was a kid.

missy said...

Argh! scary or what. I would not like to meet one of them in the sea!!!!!!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Life is so precious. It is a shame this animal has to endure the hardships of being out of its natural environment. I understand people eat things like that. It is a good photograph that seems to have captured all of the details.

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I appreciate seeing you there.

Abraham Lincoln
My Photography

eg (scotland) said...

This reminds me of what we call a slater, also know as a wood louse - which is much smaller - no bigger than a thumb nail and looks similar underneath - also a creature which has not changed in a zillion years.

EG

tigerfish said...

Sure looks scary! Like a giant beetle!

U "R" Us said...

Holy moly that is visually and informationally fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Horseshoe crabs are found on sea shores throughout the world. They have been useful to doctors who use their unique copper-based blood to test for certain substances. Horseshoe crabs can give up some of their blood and not be harmed, so they are versital and adaptive creatures. Their harvesting for bait is being curtailed in several eastern US states to help their numbers increase to ultimately enable the migrating bird populations to regain their numbers since they feed on the horseshoe crab eggs as the birds fly north from South America to the Arctic. Horseshoe crabs are facinating creatures. It was great to have your photo to spur all these comments. Thank you!

Annie said...

A demonstration of the will to live, I think.

Rasa Malaysia said...

is this edible? Eat what? I see only hard shell.