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July 04, 2010

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Very cool.

I remember seeing, many years ago in Discover magazine, a photo of an horseshoe crab being "tapped" for blood as one would tap a maple tree for sap. Incredible critters, really. It is sad that their numbers are so low.

...their fossil ancestors would seem to be trilobites...

Really? I've never heard this. It would be very interesting to me if true. I've always had a thing for trilobites.

Ah, after poking around a bit, I can still only find references to horseshoe crabs and trilobites being relatives (most certainly!). Hm, one mention that the entire subphylum are trilobite descendants. No matter, a lot of arthropoda are really neat.

Fair comment! Since horseshoe crabs were around at the same time as trilobites, I should clearly not describe the latter as "ancestors" of the former. "Close relatives" would be a better term. There's an interesting piece on the oldest horseshoe crab fossils - 455 million years old - at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207135801.htm.

I haven't seen an evolutionary tree for them (only references to the need to construct a detailed one), so how these relationships worked is unclear.

Thanks for picking up on this - all such comments much appreciated!

But I was just thinking that word usage is such a thorny subject - I coexisted with my grandparents, who could reasonably be described as my "ancestors".......

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