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Here are some interesting facts about horseshoe crabs
Limulus polyphemus those strange-looking creatures you often see at the seashore,
according to Kirk J. Havens, assistant director, Center for Coastal Resources Management,
Virginia Institute of Marine Science:
- Horseshoe crabs appeared in our oceans more than 300 million years ago long
before the dinosaurs.
- Horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders than they are to crabs.
- Females lay about 20,000 BB-sized eggs that are very important as a food source for
migratory birds that are flying northward from their southern wintering habitats in
Central and South America.
- Horseshoe crab blood is used to screen drugs for bacteria. A chemical in the blood forms
clots in the presence of bacteria. It is used by medical companies as a fast, effective
way of testing drugs before they are given to people. A small amount of blood is taken
from horseshoe crabs and the crab is released back into the water. Some estimates are that
the product is worth up to $15,000 a quart.
- For additional information visit the VIMS Chesapeake Bay Watch site at www.vims.edu/ccrm/chesbaywatch.htm.
From that site you can view some additional information plus our video on horseshoe crabs.
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