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Lobster, Uninterrupted

BU, NPR team up to explore lobster longevity — in song

Click here for the NPR Radio Lab sound file “Long Live the Lobster: Forever Young?” to hear more from Jelle Atema, a CAS professor of biology, and Leroy, the singing lobster.

Pity the human beings who spend time and money trying to age gracefully, lacking the insight that has helped lobsters for ages: “Eat, eat, eat! Molt, expand, repeat!”

Lobsters show no evidence of aging, according to Jelle Atema, a professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences — they just increase in size. Since they are always growing, lobsters molt in a continual process. Before they escape from their old shell, an act called ecdysis, they grow a new exoskeleton underneath. The bigger the lobster, the older it is — a fact evidenced by the 15-pound lobster with a mean streak that Atema keeps in his marine animal behavior laboratory. And since lobsters don’t age, they retain their strength, reproductive capabilities, younger metabolism, and possibly ornery nature.

National Public Radio reporter Robert Krulwich teamed up with Atema, comedian Josh Kurz, and Leroy the Uninterrupted Lobster to explore this phenomenon. Leroy is a singing sensation who has avoided parasites, predators, and lobster cages through cautious behavior and lots of food.

Kim Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu. Paul Heerlein can be reached at heerlein@bu.edu.