Different species have their own unique characteristics. Have you heard about any species that is able to produce a type of blood that is extremely valuable, one that has extraordinary antibacterial properties? The maker behind this exceptional type of blood is the type of crab called Horseshoe Crab. What’s more, people have developed methods that can make this blood help save human lives. Doesn’t think it’s good on the crabs, though!
Just as the blood is unique in terms of its characteristics, the color of the blood is beautiful, too! It’s a bright blue, as a result of using copper-based hemocyanin to transport oxygen whereas vertebrates use iron in hemoglobin.
As we know, vertebrates have been created by nature in a way that they use their white blood cells to fight infection. However, when it comes to invertebrates, they have amebocytes for the same purpose. Atlantic horseshoe crabs, scientifically known as “Limulus polyphemus”, have evolved these amebocytes to an extensive level of refinement, giving them huge medical value.
The amebocytes of these crabs tend to coagulate around even the smallest one part in a trillion of bacterial infection. Mind blowing! Even more interesting is how little time it takes for the reaction to work. Only 45 minutes! This characteristic makes this crab blood more invaluable for medical sciences, since that of mammals take two full days for the reaction.
However, the medical researches working on this coagulan synthesis are still in their primary stages. So, at the moment, a quarter of a million of these crabs are being harvested each year for their blood.