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Horseshoe Crab

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Horseshoe Crab Facts

Kingdom:
Five groups that classify all living things
Animalia
Phylum:
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
Arthropoda
Class:
A group of animals within a pylum
Merostomata
Order:
A group of animals within a class
Xiphosurida
Family:
A group of animals within an order
Limulidae
Common Name:
Most widely used name for the species
Horseshoe Crab
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species
Limulidae
Found:Worldwide
Diet:
What kind of foods the animal eats
Omnivore
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
20cm - 60cm (8in - 24in)
Weight:
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
1kg - 4.5kg (2.2lbs - 9.9lbs)
Number of Species:
The total number of recorded species
4
Average Lifespan:20 - 40 years
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
Colour:
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Black. Brown, Yellow, Tan, Silver, White
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Shell
Favourite Food:Worms
Habitat:
The specific area where the animal lives
Muddy bottoms of shallow water
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
90,000
Main Prey:Worms, Molluscs, Crustaceans
Predators:
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Sharks, Sea Turtles, Humans
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to the animal
Armoured shell with long, thin tail

Horseshoe Crab Location

Map of Horseshoe Crab Locations

Horseshoe Crab

The horseshoe crab (also known as the king crab), is a hard-shelled invertebrate found on the sea floor in warmer climates. Despite it's name, the horseshoe crab is not actually a crab (or crustacean) and is in fact more closely related to arachnids such as spiders and scorpions.

There are four different species of horseshoe crab found inhabiting the warmer shallows off the coasts of India, Japan, Indonesia, the eastern USA, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The horseshoe crab has a hard outer shell, five pairs of legs and a long, thin tail which the horseshoe crab uses for changing direction whilst swimming rather than as a defensive weapon.

The appearance of the horseshoe crab is thought to have changed very little from when it first evolved around 500 million years ago. Horseshoe crabs breathe using book gills, which are thin plates found on the abdomen of the horseshoe crab.

Horseshoe crabs are generally nocturnal animals, coming out of the shadows in the darkness in order to hunt for food. As carnivorous animals, horseshoe crabs only eat meat including sea worms, small molluscs and crustaceans.

Thanks to their armoured casing, horseshoe crabs have few natural predators and are primarily hunted by sharks and sea turtles. Humans also widely hunt the horseshoe crab around the world, along with coastal birds that pick the horseshoe crabs out of the shallows.

Female horseshoe crabs are known to lay between 60,000 to 120,000 eggs at a time. After mating, the female horseshoe crab lays her eggs into a hole in the sand which she then covers up to protect them.

Today, the horseshoe crab is still found widely along the world's warmer coastlines although horseshoe crab populations in certain areas are suffering from high levels of water pollution and over-fishing.

Horseshoe Crab Comments

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"horseshoe crabs are awesome!!!!"
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Allie Clark
"the article REALLY helped with my school project 9 year old,Allie Clark"
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First Published: 24th May 2010, Last Updated: 9th January 2017 [View Sources]

Sources:
1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 May 2010]

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