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OK, not really, but two new studies indicate that our understanding of invertebrate suffering is naive to say the least. All those lobsters and crabs we’ve been boiling to death, thinking they don’t have the brain capacity to feel it? They apparently feel it, dudes.

Great, just what we need: another reason to feel guilty about eating something previous generations enjoyed without a drop of remorse.

MSNBC has filed a report on the studies. Here’s the gist of it:

For the second paper, slated for publication in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, [Robert] Elwood, along with Stuart Barr and Lynsey Patterson, outline seven reasons, with supportive findings, they believe crustaceans suffer.

For one thing, they argue, crustaceans possess “a suitable central nervous system and receptors.” They learn to avoid a negative stimulus after a potentially painful experience. They also engage in protective reactions, such as limping and rubbing, after being hurt.

Physiological changes, including release of adrenal-like hormones, also occur when pain or stress is suspected. And the animals make future decisions based on past likely painful events.

If crabs are given medicine — anesthetics or analgesics — they appear to feel relieved, showing fewer responses to negative stimuli. And finally, the researchers wrote, crustaceans possess “high cognitive ability and sentience.”

Sometimes the Information Age just sucks.

Photo by Nate Steiner

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