To grow, a lobster must shed its shell. They do this 25 times in the first five years of their life, gaining about 50% in volume each time. After this, moulting usually slows to bi-annually and then annually. It is not a simple process. When the lining membrane bursts, the lobster is helpless for twenty minutes, and then must detach itself from its old shell. Because the teeth inside its stomach that grind its food are part of the lobster's exoskeleton, it has to pull out the lining of its throat, stomach and anus.
Not all lobsters survive moulting, but those that do eat the old shell as a source of calcium. The reproductive cycle begins when the female sheds her old shell. Unlike humans, as female lobsters age they become more adept at mating and reproduction. Older and larger females produce around 50,000 eggs at a time.
Lobsters communicate by urinating at each other. They have small urine release nozzles under their eyes, which they squirt at each other. The chemical mix of the urine can communicate anything from recognition to aggression or readiness for sex. Like houseflies, lobsters also taste with their feet.
There is a bright red lobster at Birmingham Sea Life called Gumbo, a North American lobster. He looks like he's already been cooked but is actually the product of an extremely rare genetic mutation. Similar mutations render one in four million lobsters blue. There have even been examples of two-tone lobsters with the colouration split exactly down the middle of the body.
Whatever their colour in life, all lobsters turn red when boiled because during the cooking process, protein molecules in the shell bend into shapes that absorb different wavelengths of light and end up reflecting red.
The largest lobster on record was caught off Nova Scotia in 1977. It measured 3 feet 6 inches (1 metre) from tail to claw, weighed 20 kilos (most lobsters weigh between 0.7-0.9kg), and was thought to be around 100 years old.
There are about 50 species of lobster, including the hunchback locust, the velvet fan and the musical furry.
Lobster blood is colourless when the lobster is alive, but turns white when cooked.
If left alone in a tank for too long, a lobster will eat itself.
Just because the Almighty gave people a taste for lobsters doesn't mean he gave the lobsters a taste for being boiled alive.
Lobsters from 140 million years ago were so like today's that if you ate one for dinner you wouldn't notice the difference.
Lobsters continue to grow with age, but since they are invertebrates and so have no internal skeletons, they are very difficult to age with any degree of accuracy. Even so, since the filming of the QI episode 'I Spy' where we said it was impossible to age a lobster, scientists have found a way of doing it. As with trees, the method is to count the rings – they grow one ring per year on their eye stalks.
It is thought lobsters could live up to 150 years but nobody knows for sure. Thanks to an abundance of an enzyme called telomerase (which is crucial for replacing bits of DNA lost during cell division), their cells remain young and pristine and continue to divide.
Lobsters’ bladders are in their heads.
The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.
1 in every 5000 lobsters is born bright blue due to a genetic defect. They are more likely to be eaten since they aren't very well camoflauged.
In the 17th century 'lobster' was used as an insult. It was like calling someone a rogue.