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Unloving Lobsters

November 30, 2010

A rumor about the love lives of lobsters gets a reality check.


Clearing up some crustacean confusion…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s time for another episode of our new series, (eerie music) Reality Check, where we investigate weird phenomena and science folklore. Lobsters live a long time, and perhaps that’s why it’s rumored that they mate for life. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, according to marine ecologist Don Behringer of the University of Florida.

DON BEHRINGER (University of Florida):
The females will actually mate with multiple males so not only do they not mate for life, oftentimes they can be pretty promiscuous, and have multiple males siring a single clutch.

He says this helps ensure that all of her eggs get fertilized. Female lobsters lay hundreds of thousands of eggs but very few survive. So breeding with multiple males may also give a few of her offspring just the right mix of genes to make it in an unpredictable world. And if your favorite science myth needs a reality check, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the scienc society.