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Favorite Living Fossil?
The favorite dinosaur question, and more specifically an answer that someone
gave to it, stirred once again my interest in those survivors from bygone
ages, the "living fossils."
Personally, my favorite has always been Limulus polyphemus, the horseshoe
crab. I grew up on the New Jersey coast, and saw them coming ashore for
mating every spring. I also saw the slaughter that senseless people
subjected them to, and heard the fantastic stories about how dangerous they
were, waiting in the shallows to impale the unsuspecting bather with their
long spike-like tails. Needless to say, I quickly grew to champion these
harmless survivors from the distant past.
As I grew a bit older and began keeping aquaria, I occasionally would collect
young horseshoe crabs and keep them in a marine tank. They are fascinating
to watch, marching around the bottom, or kicking up and swimming upside-down,
their shell assuming a boat-like configuration, and the legs becoming banks
Occasionally I would spot some freshly laid eggs, like miniature crystal
balls, with the tiny yellowish embryos rolling around inside. I would take a
few home and hatch them, and keep the young, who look for all the world like
trilobites, for a couple of moults, watching them develop diminutive tails
and take on more of the adult shape and coloration, before taking them back
to the shore and setting them free.
Other favorite living fossils of mine are the tuatara, the cycad, and the
ginkgo, but Limulus far outstrips these.
My challenge of the week is for members of this list to name their favorite
living fossils, with a bit of explanation as well, please! :)
Applications Programmer, Office of Educational Development
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Phone: 501/296-1087; FAX: 501/686-7053
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-ex-archaeologist; lifelong afficionado of dinosaurs and their latter-day kin
"Cross-platform computing is much safer than downhill!" :)