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article imageStudy suggests that crustaceans 'feel pain'

By Tim Sandle     Aug 10, 2013 in Environment
It has been a point 'hotly' debated throughout the worlds of science and cooking: when a lobster is dropped into a steaming pan of water, does it 'feel pain'? A new research study suggests that crustaceans do sense pain.
The re-emergence of the crab and lobster pain debate has come about after an animal behavior professor has argued that crabs and lobsters, and other crustaceans, respond to electrical shocks in a way that suggests discomfort, according to Pop Sci. Crustacean is a collective term for crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles.
The professor, Robert Elwood, has based his assertions on a series of experiments in which crabs were subjected to electric shocks. In one set of experiments, Elwood allowed shore crabs to choose to enter one of two shelters. One shelter delivered electric shocks to the animals, while the other did not. The crabs appeared to learn to avoid the chambers where shocks had been delivered.
In a second set of experiments, the Elwood subjected hermit crabs to shocks within their shells. Hermit crabs typically did not leave their shells unless offered a new one, but the animals that had been shocked were more likely to seek new homes.
From these results, Professor Elwood has argued that the crabs have exhibited aversive behaviors and that these are a sign that crustaceans do experience pain and seek to avoid it. The study was conducted at Queen’s University in Belfast and reported by the science journal Nature.
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