Significance to humans

Horseshoe crabs have been harvested for food and bait. They also have been processed into fertilizer. Perhaps most important, horseshoe crabs have enabled numerous human health advances. Studies of the eyes of horseshoe crabs have led to therapies for human eye disorders. The blood of horse-

Horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) spawning. (Photo by Vanessa Vick/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Chelicera Walking legs

Posterior artery Telson

Opisthosoma

Horseshoe crab anatomy. (Illustration by Christina St. Clair)

Mouth

Opisthosoma

Anus Ganglion

Gizzard

Esophagus

Horseshoe crab anatomy. (Illustration by Christina St. Clair)

Mouth

Cecum

Ventral nerve cord

Marginal artery Cerebral ganglion shoe crabs forms a substance, Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL), that is used to identify gram-negative bacteria in medical fluids and drugs and on surgical devices. Nontoxic and biodegradable chitin from horseshoe crabs is used in prod ucts such as contact lenses, surgical sutures, and skin lotion. The chitin forms a chemical that removes metals and toxins from water, and its fat-absorbing properties help remove fat and cholesterol from the human body.

1. Japanese horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus); 2. American horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus). (Illustration by John Megahan)

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