The bizarre-looking horseshoe crab is a living fossil. It pre-dates the dinosaurs and it hasn’t changed for 250 million years. Somehow it has survived the planetary catastrophes that wiped out a majority of the earth’s species. In Asia, its populations are reportedly in steep decline. In Delaware Bay, on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States it appears to be holding its own so far. Here the horseshoe crab has some powerful friends. And well it might – because its copper-based blood has saved countless millions of human lives. The blood of the horseshoe crab has the unique property that it clots in the presence of bacterial toxins, and can be used to screen pharmaceuticals and implantable medical devices to make sure they’re clean. This Earth Report goes on a voyage of discovery to find out more about this remarkable creature.
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