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Old Mar 29 2009, 09:39 AM   #1
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Cheryl's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Maryland, USA
Gender: F
Fan of: Pern!
Now Reading: Paladin of Souls (Bujold)
Default Copper-based blood

While watching a Nature program on horseshoe crabs, I was suprised and interested to learn that their blood is copper-based hemocyanin rather than iron-based hemoglobin. I had not previously been aware that there were creatures on earth with copper-based blood. There aren't a lot of such creatures, just horseshoe crabs, a few other arthropods, and mollusks.

I'm excited to learn that copper-based blood isn't just theoretical but a proven possibility. Yay for Anne for not picking an impossibility.

Unfortunately there is a flaw...the hemocyanin causes their blood to be blue when oxygenated, and colorless when not, whereas Anne's dragons have green blood. It makes sense to assume it'd be green, as copper takes on a green patina as it rusts (ie as it chemically reacts with oxygen), but I guess that isn't the case with hemocyanin. On the other hand, there's nothing to say that the dragons don't use different copper-based protein and not hemocyanin.
Visit one of the other sites of Cheryl's Anne McCaffrey Triad:
Sariel's Guide to Pern: a detailed guide to the series
The Many Works of Anne McCaffrey: largest fan site about Anne and ALL of her works
McCaffrey Quest: annual trivia contest.
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