I like animals. I like books. I like art. More or less in that order, if that makes sense. I have tons of books about animals (or so it would seem, having hauled them from home to home in an ever-increasing load), and before I was married almost everything hanging on my walls or painted on my coffee cups was zoological, and although now, a number of years and children into marriage, the artwork is a little more balanced toward landscapes and human things, etc., creatures are still a major motif. I thought about this when visiting friends this week. Almost everything hanging on their walls or propped up on their mantel was a picture of family. What, no animals? No non-humans?
I know I am "different." I should lie when people ask me what I do. No one knows how to respond to the z-word. "Oh, so you work in a zoo?" It's always an awkward, disconnected conversation.
They also don't know how to respond to this, a piece of art I snapped up on the spot from a freshly-minted student from Emily Carr. I have forgotten her last name, but her first name was Carly.Yes, this imposing banner, or whatever it is, hanging at the landing of our staircase, is a reproduction of a scientific drawing of Limulus polyphemus, a horseshoe crab. It is ink on canvas, then cleverly stained and shellacked to look like it has been soaking in a bog for several hundred years.
I love horseshoe crabs. I became fascinated by their cast exoskeletons on a beach in New Jersey when I was a youngster. I liked their prehistoric form, and the puzzling variety of clattering appendages that were revealed when you flipped them over. They are arthropods, but chelicerates, not crustaceans. Their classification and other information can be found here and here.
The are four extant species of horseshoe crab. Limulus is north Atlantic; the others are Indo-Malayan, including Japan. Two of those are Tachypleus spp. The other is Carcinoscorpius rotundicaudata, an endangered species.
I found the dead one in the picture above on an island on the north side of Singapore. Despite its inanimate condition, I was very excited. The local zoologists (that z-word) were happy for me, because they understood how it is.