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Horseshoe crab research

Horseshoe crab research

Z410/0002

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Credit

VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) in shallow water by a coast. The horseshoe crab, contrary to its name, is a distant relative of the spider. It has existed unchanged for over 500 million years. It inhabits the eastern coast of North America, and comes to the shore to breed and lay eggs. The breeding season is usually in early summer. The horseshoe crab feeds on molluscs, worms and algae in shallow coastal waters with sandy bottoms. Due to its primitive nature, it has been extensively used as a research animal. Study of its nervous system has provided insight into information pro- cessing in higher animals, and study of its immune system may reveal how animals fight infection.

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