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Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor

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Traveling from the Delaware Bay to the Florida Panhandle, this examination is a quest through the natural history and science behind one of nature’s oldest and oddest survivors—the horseshoe crab. With ten eyes, five pairs of walking legs, a heart half the length of their bodies, and blood that can save a person’s life, horseshoe crabs have been on this planet for 445 mill Traveling from the Delaware Bay to the Florida Panhandle, this examination is a quest through the natural history and science behind one of nature’s oldest and oddest survivors—the horseshoe crab. With ten eyes, five pairs of walking legs, a heart half the length of their bodies, and blood that can save a person’s life, horseshoe crabs have been on this planet for 445 million years—since long before the dinosaurs arrived. This book explores their unique biology and sex life, explains their importance to medical science and migratory shorebirds, and introduces readers to the people who are working to study and protect them.


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Traveling from the Delaware Bay to the Florida Panhandle, this examination is a quest through the natural history and science behind one of nature’s oldest and oddest survivors—the horseshoe crab. With ten eyes, five pairs of walking legs, a heart half the length of their bodies, and blood that can save a person’s life, horseshoe crabs have been on this planet for 445 mill Traveling from the Delaware Bay to the Florida Panhandle, this examination is a quest through the natural history and science behind one of nature’s oldest and oddest survivors—the horseshoe crab. With ten eyes, five pairs of walking legs, a heart half the length of their bodies, and blood that can save a person’s life, horseshoe crabs have been on this planet for 445 million years—since long before the dinosaurs arrived. This book explores their unique biology and sex life, explains their importance to medical science and migratory shorebirds, and introduces readers to the people who are working to study and protect them.

30 review for Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    I wanted to love this since I love horseshoe crabs, but I couldn't appreciate the analogies (Earth as a cherry pie? Didn't work for me.), science fiction references, or the old movie references. I learned some new things, especially about historic harvesting and horseshoe crab vision research. I wanted to love this since I love horseshoe crabs, but I couldn't appreciate the analogies (Earth as a cherry pie? Didn't work for me.), science fiction references, or the old movie references. I learned some new things, especially about historic harvesting and horseshoe crab vision research.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    This was a splendidly interesting book about a subject I knew next to nothing going in. It was written in a very friendly style. Fredericks invited us into his world of exploring the horseshoe crab, what it means to the world, and what it means for him. It is endearing up to a point, but I know I wouldn't be able to tolerate most of my science books written this way. Writing about natural history lends itself better to this sort of personal journalistic approach much better than most other scienc This was a splendidly interesting book about a subject I knew next to nothing going in. It was written in a very friendly style. Fredericks invited us into his world of exploring the horseshoe crab, what it means to the world, and what it means for him. It is endearing up to a point, but I know I wouldn't be able to tolerate most of my science books written this way. Writing about natural history lends itself better to this sort of personal journalistic approach much better than most other science topics. He actually avoids making it too personal like many natural history/nature writers tend to end up doing (here's looking at you Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle and Wolves and Honey: A Hidden History of the Natural World). Both of those books I either despised by the end (wolves) or just walked away from ambivalent (feathers).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brandi Snell

    I enjoyed reading this book. Horseshoe crabs are one of my favorite critters. We have them here in lower Alabama. As a docent at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Estuarium, I get to show these wonderful animals to our visitors. I can't wait to share some of the new information , that I learned from this book with future visitors. I enjoyed reading this book. Horseshoe crabs are one of my favorite critters. We have them here in lower Alabama. As a docent at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Estuarium, I get to show these wonderful animals to our visitors. I can't wait to share some of the new information , that I learned from this book with future visitors.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Hilliard

    Very informative about horseshoe crabs, but also about environmentalists and ecologists, telling what they do and how they work to save the crabs. Also amazing is how we humans have used this dinosaur to protect our own health.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan Foley

    I have long been a fan of horseshoe crabs:) Reading this book filled in a lot of information about them I was missing and confirmed that they are very special, unique, and fascinating creatures that deserve respect and protection.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Young

    Interesting content, bad writing, worse editing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chester

    Fun read with interviews with several guardians of the horseshoe crabs. Underscores our connections and debt to this another species.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trish Remley

    I would normally give this book in the manner it was written 3 stars, but because of the information I learned, it gets 4 stars. Growing up horseshoe crabs use to wash up on the shore of our camp in Maine all the time, but the numbers decreased in adulthood (although we have noticed a few more in recent years). We have one very large shell in the living room forever. I never thought they were ugly as mentioned in the book - I thought they were very cool. Anyway to learn that they are 445 million I would normally give this book in the manner it was written 3 stars, but because of the information I learned, it gets 4 stars. Growing up horseshoe crabs use to wash up on the shore of our camp in Maine all the time, but the numbers decreased in adulthood (although we have noticed a few more in recent years). We have one very large shell in the living room forever. I never thought they were ugly as mentioned in the book - I thought they were very cool. Anyway to learn that they are 445 million years old. First dinosaurs appeared 230 million years ago. Epicenter of horseshoe numbers are in the Delaware Bay but found from Maine to all around the Florida Coast. Collected in mass in 1850's for fertilizer..... 1967 Dr. Harline was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for research on their vision. Relates to our vision. Horseshoe Carbs (HC) have 10 eyes.... Rabbit blood was used for many years to test for bacteria for anything medical that would be ingested, needles, joint replacements, organs, etc. 1953 Substance in blood cells of HC found to be extremely sensitive to endotoxins. Endotoxins associated with gram negative bacteria such as E. Coli & salmonella. Similar to rabbit blood. 1977 LAL approved test by FDA. Whole industry developed to mine this HC blood. Crabs are dissenfected, bent in half, needle injected into the heart, collect blood, centrifuged, hole drilled in shell for identification, released back into the ocean, to repeat again and again........ Very tight relationship between migrating birds (particularly Red Knots, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings) migrating from far southern reaches of South America to the Artic Circle. Main stop in Delaware bay when HC come up out of the ocean and lay eggs in the sandy beaches to only be massively eaten by these migrating birds. Even though the amount eaten is huge, obviously still so many make it to maturity, although the percentage of the overall total is very small! Lots more interesting facts in this book. THANK YOU HORSESHOE CRABS (Limulus polyphemus)!!!!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Tamney

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lathis

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tana

  14. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Martin

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Garland

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Cuff

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caicos

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  21. 4 out of 5

    Montanaman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rita R. Souther

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keith Jones

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Sledge

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela Foster

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elentarri

  28. 5 out of 5

    Guillermo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carol

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