Now that Florida’s Lobster Season (August 6 – March 31) is officially underway, what better time to post this tantalizing tidbit of science, excerpted from Seafood Lover’s Florida by Bruce Hunt, from Globe Pequot Press (due out October 2016):
If you’re a lobster lover and a bit squeamish, you may want to skip this. For those with stronger stomachs, here is a little seafood science: Technically lobster, shrimp, and crabs are phylumologically much closer related to cockroaches than they are to fish, or even to shellfish (oysters, scallops, clams, etc.). Lobsters, shrimp, and crabs are anthropods, and more specifically part of the sub-phylum of crustaceans, which means they have an exoskeleton and jointed legs, like their close cousins: insects, arachnids (spiders), and myriapods (centipedes and other wiggly-crawlies). And just like those bugs, they also have open circulatory systems (no veins and arteries) and compound eyes. Anthropods are the largest phylum of creatures on Earth. There are plenty of sub-sets among them. For instance the northern big-claw “Maine” lobster is quite different from the southern no-claw “Caribbean” spiny lobster, which is actually closer to the crawfish (“mudbugs” if you’re from Louisiana). We routinely refer to their outer part as shell but it’s actually not. It’s a skeleton, and as these guys grow, they molt, which means they shed and grow a new one. That’s where soft-shell crab comes from.
In 2011 researchers found a 480 million-year-old fossil of a seven-foot-long prehistoric lobster-like anthropod that they named anomalocaridid. Try fitting one of those on your grill.