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.