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Why crustaceans might be feeling crabby

UPDATE: Apparently, research from James Rose and colleagues has demonstrated that actually, fish don’t feel pain in any conscious, meaningful way. Sounds fishy to me…

Contrary to the words of Kurt Kobain, it’s probably no longer okay to eat fish because they don’t have any feelings, and now perhaps the same can be said of crabs. The BBC reports this morning that scientists have found further evidence that crustaceans feel pain. A study has revealed that the shore crab, a close relative of the species we use for food, responds to electric shocks and then goes on to avoid them. Previous research has shown that prawns and hermit crabs also react to painful situations.

The study was led by Bob Elwood of Queen’s University Belfast and is published in JEB this month. The interviewer on Radio 4 Today mentioned boiling live lobsters and Elwood pointed out that much worse is done to crabs in food processing where they are torn apart and dismembered while very much alive and their remains left wriggling. If crustaceans do feel pain, as we might assume they do from this and other research, then is time for humane practices to be brought into the industry just as they are the furry animals we eat? After all, we would hope that cows, and horses for that matter, were not being butchered alive.

via BBC News – Further evidence crabs and other crustaceans feel pain.

Research Blogging IconStead N. (2013). PAINFUL FEELINGS IN CRABS, Journal of Experimental Biology, 216 (3) i-i. DOI:

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