Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The large bronzed somewhat tank-like horseshoe crab can be seen at almost anytime of year along Florida beaches. It's a creature of shallow waters and estuaries where it uses the front of its horseshoe-shaped hard shell to plow through the sand and muck at the bottom in search of food. The favorite foods of horseshoe crabs are small clams and worms and it burrows in search of them, feeding as it moves. Most of the horseshoe crab's feeding is done at night under cover of darkness, but they sometimes feed at any time of day. Horseshoe crabs have no jaws, but literally tear their prey into tiny pieces with leg-like appendages, passing the pieces back as the animal moves into a forest of bristles that trap the pieces and funnel them into the crab's mouth. Feeding requires movement of the legs, thus giving new meaning to the old phrase '”Eat and run”. Once inside the horseshoe crab's digestive system, muscle action and bits of sand in its gizzard further reduce the food to digestible size. Although horseshoe crabs will eat larval clams and oysters, their numbers are not sufficient to cause problems.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.