Take x-ray to the beach!

Our kids were playing in the beautiful Carlsbad beach last weekend, when our 2-year old brought us this pre-historic looking bug. Let me assure you, “the thing” was dead prior to meeting our little girl… My wife, a biology major, quickly identified it was a Pacific mole crab, or Emerita analoga. Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

“Emerita analoga, the Pacific sand crab or Pacific mole crab, is a species of small, sand-burrowing decapod crustacean found living in the sand along the temperate western coasts of North and South America. It is found on exposed sandy beaches in the swash region of the intertidal zone.”

Ok, that makes sense. Our boys, 9 and 6, quickly suggested we bring it to the office for some x-rays. Yes, they’re my kids, and very few things escape x-ray inspection in our household. Here’s a photo similar to the one we found. The original specimen was thrown away by my bud Griffin. Well, truth be told, I forgot our little friend inside the x-ray machine… so after simmering over the weekend in the San Diego heat, it had developed quite the stench by Monday.  Since I forgot to photograph the original sand crab, here goes the photo of a close relative:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The x-rays

To x-ray image our sand crab, we used a TruView™ Fusion. This unit had a horizontal setup, meaning the x-ray source sits sideways on the stage. That’s great because it allows us to place the sample sitting vertically on the lazy-susan, which then rotates 360 degrees to create the following set of images (please be patient, large gif loading…).

sand-crab-x-ray

For those who’d like to follow the anatomy of this alien-looking animal, here’s a cool “dissection” of the Pacific sand crab. Credits to UCSC, click here for the whole dissection report. You can tell by looking at the drawing and the x-rays that we lost a few parts of the sand crab… can you tell which ones?

sand-crab-anatomy

As usual please let us know of your suggestions of cool things we can x-ray!