ANIMAL ART OF THE DAY: Hokusai’s crustaceans

Hokusai's Crustaceans
Crustaceans, c. 1825
Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760-1849)
Japan, Edo Period
ink and color on silk scroll
Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, D.C. (USA)

It’s on my to-do list to try to identify all the different species scurrying around here. For now, I’ll just note that there is an imposter crustacean in the mix — Horseshoe Crabs (family Limulidae) aren’t true crabs, and aren’t even crustaceans. 😉 (They’re chelicerates, a whole different subphylum of arthropods which also includes the arachnids.)

Horseshoe Crab detail
Horseshoe Crab (detail)

Horseshoe Crabs have been around for a long time — their fossil record dates back about 480 million years! There are still four living species on the planet today, three native to coastal marine and brackish waters of South and Southeast Asia and the fourth native to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast of the United States…it would make sense for this to be the native Japanese species, Tachypleus tridentatus:

Horseshoe Crab stamp
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