HotAIR FEATURE - mini-FOLLOW-UP -- Horseshoes in Mammals


mini-FOLLOW-UP --
Horseshoes in Mammals

by Bertha Vanatian, AIR staff

The Smithsonian Institution

Editor's note: We received this letter form investigators shelton and Jacobs, and publish it without comment.

We at the National Museum of Natural History may be tedious and boring, but we are at least nit-picking and obsessive. It distresses us to hear about misidentifications and misclassifications. We used to enjoy tracking down nomina nuda until we found out that those are not nearly as much fun as they sound. In fact, no fun at all. But we like to think that we can accept scholarly taxonomic updates gracefully.

Re the following in mini-AIR 2000-05:


2000-05-17 Crabby Reactions

Many readers kindly pointed out our error last month in saying that horseshoe crabs are crustaceans. As several of them phrased it (in a case of simultaneous originality?): "Although it is called a 'crab,' it is neither a decopod or crustacean, rather horseshoe crabs are grouped in their own class (Merostomata), which is more closely related to the arachnids."

Investigator Horace R. Smithson weighed in with a discovery of his own: "Horseshoe crabs are not crustaceans. They are mammals."

We stand corrected.


We have it on good authority from our curator of crustacea that we also stand corrected. Faced with such breathtakingly unassailable logic, we felt we had no choice but to move the entire horseshoe crab collection up to the Division of Mammals this afternoon.

They are tentatively classified as fetal porpoises. Everyone feels that science, or at least the staff in Invertebrate Zoology, will benefit.

Sally Shelton, Collections Officer

Jeremy Jacobs, Dept. of Vertebrate Zoology

National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Institution

Washington, DC


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