Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The brown to bronze-colored horseshoe crab is rounded in front, giving rise to the name 'horseshoe' crab, but it's not a crab; indeed our horseshoe crab and three similar species found in Asia have no close living relatives. They are what we call ‘relics’: creatures left behind while all their close relatives have disappeared. Horseshoe crabs very similar in appearance to those living today swam in coastal waters more than 300 million years ago. The animals living today that are the closest, but still distant, relatives of the horseshoe crab are the spiders and their kin. The adaptations of the horseshoe crab to its environment have served it well. Its legs are protected, hidden underneath a somewhat upturned bowl-shaped body, the hard covering of its body protects it from above and its shape is such that it's difficult to flip over. That long sword-like tail on a horseshoe crab may look menacing, but the horseshoe crab is harmless to people. The tail serves as a rudder as it swims and is a convenient tool that allows the animal to flip itself right side up if the waves or a predator do happen to get it upturned.'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.