Latin name: Limulus polyphemus
Average lifespan: 20 years or more.
Size: A mature male ranges from 7–9 inches across the helmet-like prosoma.
Mature females typically are much larger than the males, ranging from 9–12 inches across the widest part of the shell and 16–20 inches long.
Horseshoe crabs are arthropods, which mean they have an exoskeleton (external skeleton). The horseshoe crab is not a true crab; it is actually more closely related to the spider. Horseshoe crabs mainly live in the shallow ocean waters and soft muddy and sandy bottoms. Sometimes horseshoe crabs will come on shore for various reasons like mating. Horseshoe crabs are estimated to be at least 3000 million years old, making them some of the world's oldest creatures. The horseshoe crab has mainly looked the same for millions and millions of years. There are four species of horseshoe crabs that inhabit the earth's oceans.
Horseshoe Crab video.
What does a Horseshoe Crab look like?
Horseshoe crab bodies are divided in three parts. They have a shell that protects the gills, which are attached to the underside of the last pair of abdominal legs. Male horseshoe crabs are actually smaller than the female horseshoe crabs. The body can grow to be almost two feet long. Their mouth is on the underside of the center of the body and the eyes are on the top from part of their shells. The horseshoe crabs have five pair of legs, the first four are used for walking, and the other pair has little flaps that they use to push themselves forward. The spiked tail is used as a rudder, if the horseshoe crab accidentally flips over, it can bend this tail to dig in the sand, and turn itself back over.
Where does the Horseshoe Crab live?
Horseshoe crabs can be found on the sea floor in warmer climates, they utilize various habitat depending on their development stages. They lay their eggs on beaches in the summer. When those little eggs hatch the young horseshoe crabs can be found on the sandy ocean floors. The bigger they get the deeper they will explore the ocean to find food. Horseshoe craps can be found in the shallow coasts of Japan, India, Eastern USA, Japan and the Gulf of Mexico.
What does a Horseshoe Crab eat?
Horseshoe crabs do not have jaws, their mouth is more like a hole with muscles that opens and closes. To find their food they plow slowly along the ocean floor. They have no nose and since it is very dark in the bottom of the ocean they need to use the tiny hairs on their paws to find their food. As the horseshoe crabs moves it uses it's from two paws to feel around for clams, worms, mollusks and crustaceans. Once it finds something edible the horseshoe crab uses one of its claws to pick it up, and push it into their mouth.
Did you know about these Horseshoe Crab facts?
Despite their size and intimidating appearance, horseshoe crabs are not dangerous.
The female can lay between 60,000–120,000 eggs in batches of a few thousand at a time.
Limulus has four eyes - two small, simple eyes up forward and two larger, compound eyes (much like a fly's eyes) on either side of the shell.
Because they grind food with their spiny leg segments they actually have to be walking to chew their food.
During spawning season, you will find 100 times more crabs on shore at night than during the day.
The correct way to pick up the animal is by its helmet-like shell. Never lift the horseshoe crab by its tail because you might injure it.
A horseshoe crab's tail, while menacing, is not a weapon. Instead, the tail is used to plow the crab through the sand and muck, to act as a rudder, and to right the crab when it accidentally tips over.
Horseshoe Crab images
Horseshoe Crab Wallpapers
Download free Horseshoe Crab wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
Horseshoe Crab wallpaper 1
Horseshoe Crab wallpaper 2
Horseshoe Crab wallpaper 3
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Horseshoe Crab wallpaper 5
Horseshoe Crab Coloring pages
Print free Horseshoe Crab coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.