Horseshoe Crab

December 5, 2021

Horseshoe crabs are quite endearing-looking little critters that also have quite a peculiar appearance. But, dig deeper, and you’ll find that they are also fascinating animals.

  • Horseshoe crabs are older than time (or at least older than dinosaurs), having been around for over 300 million years.
  • Even though these crabs have a tough exoskeleton and look like crabs—they are not crustaceans. These critters have ten legs. This last feature means they are less crab and share more genetic material with spiders and scorpions. 
  • The horseshoe crab takes its name from the shape of its head, which looks a little like a horseshoe.
  • Its body has three parts, the head (prosoma). This head contains most of its biological organs, nervous system, heart, brain, and mouth.
  • This crab has nine eyes distributed throughout its body. The two prominent eyes are at the front of its head and are compound. The other seven eyes are not complex but are valuable in picking up movement to catch prey and detect changes in light.
  • It even has light receptors close to its long tail, which are excellent at sensing its environment.
  • The central section of its body is the abdomen (opisthosoma). The belly resembles a triangle containing a prominent ridge, with spines around its perimeter. The stomach includes gills to breathe and muscles to aid movement.
  • The last section is its long, pointy tail (telson). The primary purpose of the tail is to right itself in case it flips over.
  • Horseshoe crabs sustain themselves on a diet of algae, clams, and worms.
  • Female crabs are approximately one-third larger than males, reaching sizes of up to 19 inches.

If you’re ever in Delaware Bay with a full moon, new moon, at high tide during May or June, you may be lucky enough to see horseshoe crabs. They come out to breed at this time—perhaps because the full moon puts them in a romantic mood.

9 Comments

  1. Libby Cummings

    This is educational to know how the crabs survive.
    Perhaps mankind can learn better how to survive
    In this COVID-19 era.

    Reply
  2. Bobbi

    Very interesting
    But which side is the head?
    And
    What is the long skinny “rod”
    On one end???
    Thank you

    Reply
  3. Renee Baxter

    Bobbi – RE read article. . . All the answers are there

    Reply
  4. John Williams

    Fascinating. I see them in Delaware. Oftend wondered what they ate. They don’t seem to move much. To think 3 million years llong before the Dinasas yet had brains lungs and a heart. Wow so interesting.

    Reply
  5. Megan Tucker

    The head in this picture is facing away from us. The long skinny thing is it’s tail. I used to find these washed up on the beach when I lived with my grandparents on the river in Ormond Beach, FL. Really cool creatures!

    Reply
  6. amascitelli@verizon.net

    there blood is blue in color and they use it in many things in science and medical studys

    Reply
  7. Dustin Brooks

    That is awesome. Thank you so much. Seen and photographed them on beach before.

    Reply
    • Animal Of The Day

      Wow I am very jealous! I would love to interact with these beautiful creatures.

      Reply
  8. Felton Immediato

    Regularly I don’t learn on sites, yet I wish to say that this review very constrained me to attempt to do it! Your composing taste has been shocked me. Much obliged, very great post.

    Reply

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