Years ago, scientist Robert Elwood was asked if crabs, lobsters and the like experienced pain. He didn’t have an answer then, but has worked since to find one.
Years ago, scientist Robert Elwood was asked if crabs, lobsters and the like experienced pain.
Elwood didn’t have an answer then, but has worked since to find one.
A part of the problem in giving a simple yes or no response is that determining what qualifies as pain is pretty complicated.
Elwood and his team started by considering how various invertebrates responded to a variety of stimuli.
They examined reactions to extreme temperatures, dangerous chemicals, and physical force.
It was concluded that there was a stimulus response, but whether or not it related to pain was another matter.
Next, they looked at the longer-term effects of having sustained some kind of intrusive encounter.
Elwood reported that when prawns were subjected to harsh chemicals, they began to obsessively groom the affected areas. When they were given painkillers, they stopped.
Shore crabs who were given shocks when resting in one area moved to another.
He also found among hermit crabs, the grander the shell they were living in, the longer they’d endure an irritating stimulus before finally leaving it for another – as if they were conducting a cost-benefit analysis.
Elwood said that he interprets those responses as reactions to pain.