From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

Which animal has saved the most human lives?

Evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod answers your wild question.

Published: November 16, 2016 at 2:02 pm
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The award for ‘most lives saved’ must go to the Atlantic horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus.

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In the 1950s, scientists isolated from its bright-blue blood a clotting agent, coagulogen, that binds to fungi and endotoxins.

This led to a simple, reliable method for detecting impurities in medical equipment and pharmaceutical drugs.

Oxygenated blood is harvested from the pericardium of wild-caught crabs, which are then returned to the sea.

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The product is used to test drugs and medical instruments, saving pretty much anyone who has ever received any medical attention (since the 1950s).

Authors

Ben Garrod is a Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich. Ben is also a television presenter, author and great ape conservationist.

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