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The Tidewater’s Living Fossil by Mary Syrett

When a new moon rises in June, thousands of prehistoric creatures emerge from the depths of the sea, their heavy armor clanking as they clamor over one another in the shallows of Chesapeake Bay. Here they mate, leaving millions of eggs in sand near the shore. Then they seemingly disappear. Of all the animals that inhabit this planet, the horseshoe crab, also known as “horsefoot” and “saucepan,” is my favorite. There is something special about a crea-

ture that has remained unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, surviving mass extinctions that at various times wiped out much of life on earth. The horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) belongs to the Anthropod class of animals that have legs with joints and a body divided into two or more parts. The American horseshoe crab is found from Maine to Mexico and throughout Florida. The largest concentration in the world is found in the

Horseshoe crabs along the coast of Delaware Bay. 41

Tidewater Times June 2011  

June 2011 Tidewater Times

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