The eggs of these crabs
are eaten in some areas, with locals cutting open the body and eating the
unlaid eggs directly after cooking. There have been some reports, however,
of the crabs being toxic. The blood of the crab is important in the biomedical
world as a purified version can help detect baterial toxins, important in
disease detection as well as ensuring the cleanliness of equipment.
to 40 cm in length (plus tail)
The horseshoe crab is a survivor unlike other mangrove animal alive
today. It is what biologists call a 'living fossil' an organism which
has remained basically unchanged for millions of years! In fact, fossils
of horseshoe crabs over 400 million years old look almost identical
to the species alive today. Slow and steady nonetheless, they have
withstood the ultimate challenge Mother Nature has thrown at them
- the test of time!
Mangrove horseshoe crabs are basically scavengers, but they also feed
on bivalves. They are found throughout Southeast Asia. The telson
or tail is used to right itself up when overturned and not as a weapon
as some believe!
Their large eggs, which hatch into miniature versions of the adults,
are laid in the upper parts of the mangroves. Males (usually much
smaller than females), cling on to and follow their potential mates
around for long periods before egg-laying. Not surprisingly, some
locals identify this crab with matrimonial fidelity.
Mating pair of Mangrove
(the male is the smaller animal)
Larva of horshoe crab
Book gills on underside
The sabre-like telson of
the horseshoe crab is used
to right itself up