National Geographic : 1928 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE THE GIANT SPIDER CRAB FROM JAPAN This fine specimen of the largest of all crustaceans, the Giant Spider Crab, Macrocheira kiimpferi, measures nearly 12 feet between the tips of its outstretched claws. This animal is known to occur to a depth of over 2,000 feet in the seas off the coast of Japan. casual observer, for in no other living animal is there a similar adaptation serv ing the same purpose-the Horseshoe Crab literally chews its food with its legs, the base of four of these members being set with bristling spines, which act like jaws and with which the food is torn and reduced before it is swallowed. Notwithstanding the fact that these re markable survivors from another day are still numerous enough to be among the commonest animals of the seashore, they are probably passing through their final period. In recent years, since mankind became aware of their destructive habits on oyster beds and value as a soil fertil izer, wholesale slaughter has taken place. Naturalists record that as late as 1856 more than a million Horseshoe Crabs could be seen to come ashore and lay their eggs within the area of a single mile along certain sections of our Eastern coast. To-day there is no such abundance, and at the present rate of decrease these curious creatures may become practically extinct within the time of men now living.