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The Medicinal Value of the Horseshoe Crab!

Updated on May 20, 2020
powers41 profile image

Amazing how this species has contributed so much to the medical field.

The Valuable Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe Crab Scientific name: Limulus Polyphemus
Horseshoe Crab Scientific name: Limulus Polyphemus
Notes of a Horseshoe Crab
Notes of a Horseshoe Crab
Underside of the Horseshoe Crab
Underside of the 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

Scientists Extracting the Blue Blood
Scientists Extracting the Blue Blood

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

Jack Levin and Golden Goose Award
Jack Levin and Golden Goose 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:

Tachypleus Gigas

Tachypleus tridentatus

Carcinoscoroius Rotundicauda

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    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      28 hours ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for your rea and comments..

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      28 hours ago from Toledo, Ohio

      I did, thanks for the reminder.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      2 days ago

      Fran, I don't see you responding to the latest article of my story series, "Keily, the Bookworm". I hope you haven't forgotten. Please look at my profile page or the link down below to find it. Thanks.

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      3 days ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for reading and hoped it help explain the horshoe crab

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 days ago from UK

      I had heard of the horseshoe crab, but I didn't know anything about it. Your article explains a lot.

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      3 days ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for your comments. I will check out your article today.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      3 days ago

      Fran, Part-10 (a new one) of my story series, "Keily, the Bookworm" is now available. Will you read it? If yes, please leave your feedback in the comments section of the article. Here is the link:

      https://letterpile.com/serializations/Keily-the-Bo...

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      3 days ago

      The medicinal value of horseshoe crab seems great. The man behind the research on these creatures had held enough contribution and had rightly received the Golden Goose Award. Thumbs up to him. Great hub, Fran.

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