Want to hear something horrifying?

Every pharmaceutical product that comes into direct contact with your blood is tested via a process that involves kidnapping horseshoe crabs, forcefully bleeding them, dropping them off somewhere far away, and then mixing their blood with your future medicine.  I have so many thoughts on this.

One, I miss you, Mitch Hedberg.

Two, we are going through a lot of trouble to not kill the crabs (although up to 30% of the crabs die before being released, and those that survive seem to be less fertile).  This either a sign of a great yet extremely specific compassion, or because we’re concerned about depopulation and this is easier than domesticating them.

Three, can horseshoe crabs feel pain or fear?  If they can, catch, bleed, and release seems less humane than a clean kill and draining all their blood.  Human pain has two components: nociception, which is the peripheral nervous system “ouch”, and your brain’s interpretation and reaction to that pain. That’s why the same sensation can have a very different emotional component depending on the source.  Horseshoe crabs have a  nervous system, so they can feel nociception, but with such limited brains and no endocrine system at all it’s unlikely they’re feeling pain by this definition.  Certainly less than the bunny rabbits that previously filled this role.  Probably little enough that I’m willing for them endure it to lessen human suffering.  But not so little there’s no room for improvement.  Which pharmaceutical companies are working on.  Not so much because this method is creepy, but because it is expensive.

Fourth, this sounds a lot like human descriptions of alien abductions, and would answer the nagging question “why do aliens smart enough to traverse light years want to anal probe so many humans?.” Maybe our anal secretions contained a key element of their biotech development process.  Maybe they happened to create a synthetic version right around the time camera phones came into vogue.

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