Are Lobsters Arachnids? (Are They Just Big Bugs?)

By now most people know that spiders and scorpions belong to the same class of animals, the arachnids, and lobsters look very much like scorpions of the sea. Therefore it makes sense to wonder about the relationship status between spiders, scorpions, and lobsters. Do they all belong to the same category? Are lobsters arachnids? 

No, they are not. All three of the animals mentioned above, though, belong to the phylum of the arthropods, which includes insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and myriapods. Spiders and scorpions – as well as smaller animals like mites and ticks – are arachnids and lobsters are crustaceans. 

Arthropods are the largest group of animals on earth, and this phylum (the level of classification below kingdom and above class) is characterized by being invertebrate (having no backbone) and having an exoskeleton (external skeleton), as well as segmented bodies, and jointed legs.

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The subphylums are mainly differentiated by their amount of legs: insects have six legs, arachnids eight, and myriapods – like centipedes and millipedes – can even have up to 750 legs. Note that the name millipedes, literally referring to a thousand legs, is an exaggeration, though!

Are Lobsters Arachnids?
Are Lobsters Arachnids?

Crustaceans are different from arachnids in that they live mainly in the water while arachnids tend to be terrestrial. Additionally, the body of arachnids has only two sections, but the body of crustaceans has three sections. Aside from lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, and crabs are examples of crustaceans.

Crustaceans tend to be larger than arachnids and are a quite common food item, whereas it is far rarer, but not totally unheard of, to eat spiders or scorpions

RELATED: What Do Spiders Taste Like?

Is It True that Lobsters Only Turn Red When You Cook Them? 

Yes, that is true! While you will find illustrations of red lobsters in cartoons or animated movies, in reality, lobsters are brown or olive-green, sometimes with red or orange speckles. The reason for their color change is a pigment called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is bright red in its free state, but in live lobsters, it is chemically bound to proteins that change its color. The heat from the boiling water breaks the bond and the astaxanthin returns to its free, bright red state. 

RELATED: Do Lobsters Have Brains, Feel Pain or Have Emotions??

Why Are Lobster Boiled Alive? 

Many people are disturbed by the fact that lobsters are not killed before being boiled, and wonder why we adhere to this cruel practice. The reason for this is various bacteria that occur naturally in the flesh of live lobsters. Once the lobsters are dead, these bacteria multiply very quickly, and the toxins they released are not sure to be killed by cooking. Killing lobsters even just shortly before boiling them would increase the risk of getting food poisoning. 

There have long been discussions about the question of whether lobsters feel pain when being boiled alive with numerous arguments going in either direction. On the one hand, some say, that, since lobsters do not possess a brain they cannot process pain.

But on the other hand, it is obvious that they react to tissue damage both physically – with a twitching of the tail that links back to a fight or flight response – and hormonally, by releasing cortisol into the bloodstream, the same hormone that humans produce when hurt.

The University of Maine, which has its very own Lobster Institute, recommends putting lobsters on ice or in very cold water shortly before boiling them, as a way of numbing them. Of course, it is hard to tell whether this is really useful or just something that is necessary for scientists from the University of Main to promote, after all, seafood, and. most importantly, lobster rolls, are at the heart of Maine cuisine

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Are Lobsters Immortal? 

Popular belief has it that lobsters cannot die unless they are killed by a predator. While it is true that lobsters do not experience senescence – the gradual deterioration of normal functioning that comes with aging – they are not immortal, either.

They can repair their DNA forever, but this comes with its drawbacks. Lobsters continue to outgrow their hard exoskeleton and have to undergo the process of molting – shedding their shell and growing a new one. This takes a lot of energy, and at one point a lobster simply gives in to exhaustion, disease, or shell collapse.