Horseshoe crabs are also important for our ocean’s ecosystem. Many fish species as well as birds feed on horseshoe crab babies. Adult horseshoe crabs provide a tasty snack for alligators, sharks, and even sea turtles! Horseshoe crabs eat mostly worms, clams, and mollusks.
When there is a full moon or a new moon in May and June, horseshoe crabs will come onto the beach to mate. Kind of like sea turtles, but they don’t walk the whole way to the dunes. Instead, they stay where the sand is still wet and the mother horseshoe crabs dig a hole and lay their eggs. Then, the father horseshoe crabs will fertilize the eggs.
Every nest has anywhere between 2,000 and 30,000 eggs!
Horseshoe crabs have blue blood that is being used by scientists to help humans fight off diseases.
Horseshoe Crab Educational Video with Snowball
Downloadable worksheets about Horseshoe
Horseshoe crabs have a hard exoskeleton which is a hard external covering to help protect them.
They also have 10 legs which they use to walk along the sea floor.
Just like us, they have muscles, brains, and hearts. Unlike us, they also have gills and that is what they use to breathe.
Their tails, called telsons, aren’t poisonous or venomous; they’re mainly used to steer and flip themselves over in case they get stuck on their backs.
Horseshoe crabs can actually swim upside down!
Horseshoe crabs aren’t crabs at all! They’re actually more closely related to spiders.
Horseshoe crabs don’t have an actual shell like a snail or a hermit crab, instead, their shells are part of their exoskeleton. This means when they grow, they have to molt, or shed their exoskeletons and this includes what we think of as their shells which then grow with them.
The component in their blood which is helpful to scientists is called Limulus Amebocyte Lysate or LAL for short and is used to detect endotoxins in medications and vaccines because it reacts in various ways when endotoxins are present!
Horseshoe crabs have been around for over 300 million years
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