Lobster with finger-like claws on display in Maine aquarium

Lobster with finger-like claws on display in Maine aquarium

Credit: Courtesy Maine State Aquarium

Lola, a six-clawed lobster, is on display at the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, after lobsterman Richard Figueiredo donated it. The 4-pound wonder has a claw that resembles a human hand, a "crusher claw" not seen very often.

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by Jon M. Chang

ABC News

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 11 at 2:30 PM

(ABC News) -- One of the most famous acts to ever grace a carnival side show was Lobster Boy, promoted as a human with lobster-like claws. But the Maine State Aquarium switched things up, showing off a new lobster named Lola, whose left claw resembles a human hand.

Aimee Hayden-Roderiques, the aquarium's manager, greeted a crew of lobstermen that brought in Lola. "They called another aquarium in the Northeast," she told ABC News. "But that aquarium directed [the lobstermen] to us, and we gladly took Lola."

Lola represents Homarus americanus, or the American lobster, a common lobster species found in the United States. But Lola's hand-like claw (also known as the cheliped or crusher claw) is something that Hayden-Roderiques said she didn't see too often. "The five claws on the one side of its body are what makes it more special than some of the other lobster deformities that we've seen," she said.

The scientists at the aquarium aren't sure whether Lola was born with this type of cheliped or if it developed later in her life. But what they do know is that the origin of the deformed crusher claw can be traced to DNA. "When a lobster loses a claw, either through a fight or a problem in the molting process, its genetics say that the claw needs to regrow," says Hayden-Roderiques. "But somehow, the genetic code got mixed up."

While it looks as if Lola has one normal size pincher claw and five tiny claws, Hayden-Roderiques said it's not quite accurate to say that Lola has six claws total. "They're not individual claws," she said. "Three of them can move, but all of them aren't usable. She wouldn't be able to crush anything with this claw."

Lola is currently on display at the aquarium, although Hayden-Roderiques can't say for how long. "She's in the exhibit tank right this minute, but we're not sure if she'll be there an hour from now," she said. "We're keeping a close eye on her, since she may be ready to molt. If we see she's not doing well, we'll pull her out."

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