Are Lobsters Ambidextrous?
Author: David Feldman
Ponder, if you will ...
Has anyone ever seen a live Cornish game hen?
Why do quarterbacks say "Hut"?
Why do "sea" gulls congregate in parking
lots of shopping centers?
What does the "Q" in Q-Tips stand for?
Pop culture guru David Feldman demystifies these questions and much more in Are Lobsters
Ambidextrous? Part of the Imponderables® series -- the unchallenged source of answers to civilization's
everyday mysteries -- and charmingly illustrated by Kassie Schwan, this book provides you with
information that encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs just don't have. And think about it, where else
are you going to find out what happens to the caffeine left over from making decaffeinated coffee?
Have you ever noticed, while digging into a lobster, that one claw is significantly larger than the other, as
if one claw was pumping iron and taking steroids, while the other claw was used only for riffling the pages
of library books? The large claw is called the "crusher" and the smaller one the "cutter" (terms that sound
like the members of a new tag team in the World Wrestling Federation). The crusher has broader and
bigger teeth but moves relatively slowly. The cutter has tiny, serrated teeth and moves swiftly.The two
claws do not start out distinctly different. Lobsters shed their shells more often than Cher has plastic
surgery — they undergo three molts in the larval stage alone. When lobsters are first hatched, the two
claws look identical, but with each successive stage in their development, the differences become more
pronounced. It isn't until their fifth molt, and second postlarval molt, that the two claws are truly
differentiated.As you may have guessed, the crusher claw is important for the defense of lobsters against
predators, and the cutter particularly useful in eating. Claws of lobsters are often torn off in accidents and
in fights. Although there are some differences among species of lobsters, most lobsters will regenerate
severed claws.Most bizarre of all, if the remaining claw of an injured lobster is a cutter, many species
with "plastic dimorphism" will change the function of that claw from cutter to crusher, presumably
because the crusher is more essential for survival. The next regenerated claw of that lobster is capable
itself of shifting to the cutter function, so that the positions of the two claws are reversed.According to
Darryl Felder, chairman of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, biology department, lobsters are not
always right- or left-"handed." The crusher may be on the right or left side of a lobster.The ultimate
answer to this Imponderable depends upon how you define ambidextrous. Certainly, lobsters can use
either cheliped (the scientific name for claw) with equal ease. Although their regenerative powers give
lobsters a certain flexibility, the versatility of each claw is not as great as that of a switch hitter in
baseball, who can swing the bat equally well from both sides, or the pickpocket who can pilfer skillfully
with either hand.Submitted by Danny Kotok of New York, New York.Why is there no Betty Rubble
character in Flmtstones Multivitamins?For reasons too unfathomable for even us to delve into, we are
thrown this question periodically on radio phone-in shows but have never received it in a letter. Perhaps
no one wants to take credit for asking this Imponderable. One radio host said that he had investigated the
matter, and found that for technical reasons, it was difficult to manufacture a realistic Betty facsimile.Ah,
we wish that were true, but the real story is far sadder, far darker. We heard from William D. Turpin,
director of consumer relations for Multivitamins' manufacturer, Miles, Inc.: The current group of Flintstones
characters was selected based upon research of the popularity of each character with children. As a
result of this research, it was determined that Betty Rubble is not as popular with the majority of the
children as the other characters.Thus, if you investigate the contents of a Flintstones Multivitamins jar
carefully, you'll find seven different "characters." As expected, Wilma, Fred, and a lonely Barney are
included. Bamm-Bamm, Pebbles, and Dino are there, too, to help round out the nuclear family....
David Feldman is the author of the ImponderablesTM series – Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? When Do
Fish Sleep?, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?, and Do Penguins Have Knees? – as well as Who Put The
Butter In Butterfly? and How to Win as Just About Everything. He has a master’s degree in popular
culture from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and consults and lectures on the media. He lives in
New York City.Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins