The Medicinal Value of the Horseshoe Crab!
The Valuable Horseshoe Crab
Basics of the Horseshoe Crab
They aren't much to look at, but they are worth their weight in gold. They are small, usually two feet by one foot, and can weigh up to ten pounds. They have a life span of about twenty years. They have no teeth as they use their ten legs to crush their food and then use their legs to push it to their mouth.
But, it is their blood that is valuable. Their blue blood equates to the lysate, which reacts to bacterial toxins by clotting. And this is what the biomedical field extracts from them. It doesn't hurt them in any way, and they released back into the wild.
The female horseshoe crab can produce 90,000 eggs a year. The male, using his claw on his first set of legs will "hitch" a ride on the female's back and then fertilizes the eggs as she plays them.
Medicinal Qualities of the Horseshoe Crab
The Valuable Horseshoe Crab
They have survived for over 445 million years and are130 million years older than the cockroach.
Although they look dangerous and have a tail called the telson, they are harmless and only use their telson as a tool to right themselves when waves wash over them. They have a hard exoskeleton and ten legs. But the fantastic thing is that their blood is blue!
They are rather ugly and related more to the spider and scorpions than to crabs.
They lay their eggs in the sands along the coast of America. They don't bite and cannot run and are harmless. Native Americans did use their telson as a spear point and their shells for containers.
There are so many countless ecological and economic benefits received from this unique species. They are food for turtles, sharks, raccoons, and foxes. The eggs they lay are scoffed up by migrating birds who time their arrivals for the egg-laying period. Fisherman use them as bait for their larger fish catches. They are capable of producing 90,000 fertile eggs per year.
In 1950, Frederik B. Bang, a pathobiologist, discovered specialized cells in the horseshoe crab blood. These amoebocytes could produce Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL). This allowed medicine to ensure that injectable drugs are free of antitoxins. After the blood is collected, the crabs are released back to the wild.
In 2019, Jack Levin and Frederik B. Bang received the Golden Goose Award given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Bang worked for over 35 years at John Hopkins Laboratory. He died in 1981 of a heart attack.
These magnificent creatures can save your life. Should you see one on the shore flipped upside down, simply flip them over.
Today, innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming the horseshoe crab for their blood.
The Prestigious Golden Goose Scientific Award
Four Species of the Horseshoe Crab
Limulus Polyphemus horseshoe crabs are found along the eastern coast of north and central America.
The other species can be found along the Indo-Pacific coasts: