“In Petrie’s educational children’s book, a horseshoe crab learns that an apparent fashion statement is actually necessary for survival.
… Petrie once served as an outreach educator for the New England Aquarium, and her knowledge of and passion for marine life is apparent throughout this colorful work. Readers don’t need to have a deep interest in marine biology to love this book; it’s so engrossing and engaging that the fact that it’s also educational is just an added bonus. Children won’t just learn about horseshoe crabs: after the story is over, the last pages offer a glossary of the sea creatures mentioned within, including limpets, Jonah crabs, and barnacles. Petrie’s bright illustrations are also a delight. Overall, this work is sure to inspire further under-the-sea exploration at bedtime and beyond.
A fun marine adventure that’s fit for everyone.”
—Kirkus Reviews (click here to read complete review)
A Colorful, Rhythmic & Rhyming Illustrated Children’s Book
The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab is a story set in Duxbury, MA about a sleek little horseshoe crab who learns how taking critters and creatures for a ride could save his life. This picture book has a whimsical, rhyming style, and portrays horseshoe crabs exhibiting behaviors that they commonly use in real life. It is the perfect choice for a family read aloud for children 3-10 years old. It also is a great tool for teachers who are studying marine life, tidepools, or coastal sea animals, and is an invaluable resource for language arts teachers. The fun, colorful, simply drawn illustrations are expressive, and bring each sea creature to life. Although two horseshoe crabs are the central characters, periwinkles, limpets, barnacles, and green and jonah crabs are also portrayed in the story. At the end of the story, there are pages containing information about horseshoe crabs and other sea animals that appear in the story.
Why a Horseshoe Crab?
Why not a horseshoe crab! Horseshoe crabs are incredible sea creatures that have lived on the Earth for about 300 million years, that’s about 100 million years before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Lots of creatures have come and gone since that time, but the horseshoe crab has lived on, practically unchanged from its 300 million year old ancestors. Horseshoe crabs are one of the few sea creatures that we have the opportunity to meet and greet at the salty ocean water’s edge. They don’t run away when they see a person coming, and they will swim right beside you, if you let them.
Many people are concerned that horseshoe crabs have a menacing look, and some people think they might sting with their tails. But horseshoe crabs are friendly creatures that have no way to hurt a human being. They don’t have a stinger in their tail. As a matter of fact, the horseshoe crab’s tail is very fragile, and can break off or become injured easily. That‘s why when you pick a horseshoe crab up, you should always lift it from the sides of its shell, and never by its tail. Horseshoe crabs can’t bite either, because they don’t have sharp teeth. A horseshoe crab’s teeth feel like the bristles of a toothbrush, which is why the foods they eat tend to be soft and easily chewed.
The horseshoe crab has only three real means of defense. First, it has a hard shell that gives the horseshoe crab some protection, although the underside of its shell is soft enough for shore birds to peck through with their beaks. If you find a horseshoe crab lying on its back on the sand, flip it over and gently place it at the water’s edge. That way the horseshoe crab won’t fall victim to a hungry sea gull. The second way a horseshoe crab can protect itself is by swimming fairly quickly when surrounded by water. If the water falls away from the shore at low tide and the horseshoe crab finds itself stranded on the wet, tidal flat sand, it is able to crawl very slowly using its pushing feet. But the most amazing way a horseshoe crab defends itself is by digging itself under the sand until it has totally disappeared, all in just a minute or two. There it can hide, in the cool, wet sand, safe from shorebirds. Despite the horseshoe crab’s ability to disappear under the sand, they are easy to find and fascinating to watch. But horseshoe crabs aren’t just another pretty face on the beach. Their contributions to the biomedical field are invaluable to us humans, and the fact that horseshoe crabs are close to being endangered challenges each of us to learn about these extraordinary creatures. Once people have a greater understanding of the horseshoe crab, it’s hoped they will have a stronger desire to help this gentle creature survive for generations to come.
Curious about Horseshoe Crabs?
Click on the tabs below to read about each topic.
Horseshoe crabs are a member of the Animalia Kingdom, and are invertebrates, meaning they have no backbone. Even though we call them crabs, horseshoe crabs are more closely related to scorpions and spiders. Because horseshoe crabs have jointed legs, they are a member of the group called Arthropods and belong to the Arthropoda Phylum.
The horseshoe crab’s binomial name or scientific name is Limulus polyphemus. A binomial name is the Latin name given to an organism that includes its genus and its species. The horseshoe crab’s genus, Limulus, means odd or askew, which is thought to refer to the way the compound eyes are placed on the horseshoe crab’s body. Polyphemus, which is the species, means one-eyed giant, and refers to the simple eyes located on the front of the horseshoe crab’s shell. The horseshoe crab also belongs to the order of Xiphosurida, which means sword-tailed animals. The horseshoe crab’s subphylum is Cheilcerata, which includes animals without jaws.
Finally, the horseshoe crab’s class is Merostomata, meaning mouth surrounded by legs. It’s amazing how well the scientific names of horseshoe crabs describe its physical body perfectly.