Monday, 18 May 2020
CRABS AND CHITIN
Crabs build their shells from highly mineralized chitin. Chitin gets around. It is the main structural component of the exoskeletons of many of our crustacean and insect friends. Shrimp, crab, and lobster all use it to build their exoskeletons.
Chitin is a polysaccharide — a large molecule made of many smaller monosaccharides or simple sugars, like glucose. It's handy stuff, forming crystalline nanofibrils or whiskers. Chitin is actually the second most abundant polysaccharide after cellulose. It's interesting as we usually think of these molecules in the context of their sugary context but they build many other very useful things in nature — not the least of these are the hard shells or exoskeletons of our crustacean friends.