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Zen Faulkes
So. About this viral video of crayfish. People are characterizing this as "crayfish cutting off its own claw to escape the pot!" I study crayfish. It doesn't look that simple.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
This crayfish appears to be completely unrestrained. Crayfish have an escape response: it's tailflipping. I have no idea why the crayfish isn't doing that.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
The claw removal is probably not due to the cutting force of the other claw. It's specialized response called autotomy, which is under neural control.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
(Errand to run, more to follow. Sorry.)
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Drug Monkey Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Tease.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Autotomy is common, and occurs in many animals (). People might know lizards that drop their tails.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Crayfish are specialized to be able to lose their claws with minimal damage and survive. It's NOT like a person ripping off an arm!
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Dr. K Mac, PhD Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
in my old grad lab, our grasshoppers used to drop a leg all the time. the opening wd close off to prevent loss of haemolymph, very handy if you are trying to pin them down for physiology!
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
With autotomy, you don't need one claw to rip off another to induce autotomy. The claw can just pop off. But crayfish often grab their own legs or claws, seemingly accidentally.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
So the viral crayfish video is not showing some crazy act of desperate self-mutilation. It's showing routine crayfish behaviour to stress or threat.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Crayfish DO react to high temperatures! I co-authored a paper about EXACTLY this: But I never saw them autotomize their claws.
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#LoveLikeJo! Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
I would agree with you... The claw that was last out of the pot is probably heat damaged. Best to get rid of it there & then before the damage extends... 🤔
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
You can see crayfish reacting to high temperatures in this video I shot. They don't react the same way to low temperature.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Does the heat cause the crayfish pain? I don't know. But the research I co-authored AND the viral video seem to agree that crayfish can tell when it's HOT.
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Why do I say I don't know if crayfish feels pain? Because pain is complicated. There is no generally agreed upon way to tell if a PERSON is feeling pain, never mind another species.
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Dr. David Shiffman Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
People who don’t understand this cause me pain
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
I've blogged about crustaceans and heat and "pain" a lot. Here is one of the more recent substantial ones:
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Journalists who want to cover this viral video: I'm standing by to answer your emails!
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
Also, the person who shot this video adopted the crayfish as a pet. I'll tell you more about pet crayfish in my talk on 22 June!
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Zen Faulkes Jun 4
Replying to @DoctorZen
If you have pet crayfish: NEVER LET THEM OUT OF THE TANK. Do not release them in streams or lakes. Do not put them in ponds -- unlike koi, crayfish have legs.
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