Contents and search bar
Index of flora
Index of fauna
Kingdom Animale | Phylum Arthropoda | Subphylum Chelicerata | Class Merostomata
Photo by Tan Bee Hong
Tachypleus ventral view
Horseshoe Crabs
Subclass Xiphosura

These are not true crabs but belong to a very ancient group presently represented by only four living species, three of which are found in South East Asian waters.

Their long tails are used mainly to right themselves if they get turned over, and not as a weapon.
Their eggs are relished by some people but have been reported to be poisonous. The smaller male normally clings onto the back of the larger female, following her around just before egg-laying.

They are harmless animals, feeding on worms, bivalves and animal matter.

Two species are common throughout South East Asia - the small and smooth-tailed Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda (diameter up to 15cm) and the larger triangular and serrated-tailed Tachypleus gigas (diameter up to 25cm).
Photo by Tan Bee Hong

Photo by Tan Bee Hong
Recently, they have become important in medical science because a purified extract of their blood can be used to quickly detect many bacterial toxins, and hence facilitate treatment.
Shore environment
From A Guide to Seashore Life by Dr Leo W H Tan and Peter K L Ng
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP

@Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre