When you think of a lobster meal, you probably think of the claws and knuckles–exceptionally flavorful and soft. But what about the legs? Many people forget about them, yet this is where you snack on the last bit of goodness. So, how many legs do lobsters have?
Lobsters have ten legs–five pairs of jointed legs, 3 of which have claws, including the first pair, which is often much larger than the others. They use the eight back legs for walking and the two front (pincers) for defense and capturing prey. Lobsters belong in the order of decapods (ten-footed).
The legs have chemoreceptors that enable the lobster to taste its food as it walks along the ocean floor. Lobsters can move forward, backward, and sideways, but when they need to move quickly, they tuck their tails beneath their abdomens and propel themselves backward.
The Number Of Legs In Lobsters
Lobsters are invertebrates categorized under the phylum Arthropoda, along with crabs, shrimp, and insects. They have ten legs, hence the decapod term, “ten-footed.”
The front legs have large claws or pincers that the lobsters use to defend and capture prey. The first pair of legs is often much larger than the others. Lobsters use the remaining eight legs for walking.
Like most other arthropods, lobsters are typically bilaterally symmetrical, but several species have unequal, specialized claws. For example, the American lobster (Homarus americanus) has two unequal claws: a larger crusher claw and a smaller pincer claw.
While the crusher claw crushes the lobster’s prey, the pincer claw tears its food apart. Lobster pincer claws can severely damage any attacking animal, including a human being, which is why you often see the claws banded shut in eateries.
Lobsters can also regenerate lost legs and claws, an incredible feat. However, this procedure is closely related to its molting process.
Interesting Facts About The Body Parts Lobsters
Here is a brief overview of the lobster parts, so you know what you are cracking into during a delicious meal!
The abdomen and cephalothorax are the two primary body parts of lobsters. A chitinous carapace covers the head and the thorax, fused by the cephalothorax.
The lobster’s head has two pairs of antennae and compound eyes. The lobster’s eyes are presumably not image-seeking, but they can recognize motion in low light. A lobster is most likely blind in direct sunlight.
The lobsters feel their surroundings using their long antennae. They “smell” their food or chemicals in the water using the four tiny antennae on the front of their heads.
The lobster’s thorax comprises maxillipeds, appendages (primarily serve as mouthparts,) and pereiopods, which are used for walking and gathering food. The abdomen includes pleopods (swimmerets), used for swimming, and the tail fan, made of uropods and the telson.
The lobster’s exoskeleton, or shell, comprises chitin and calcium carbonate. The hard shell protects the lobster’s delicate inner organs and provides a surface to which muscles attach. The lobster grows by molting or shedding its shell.
During molting, the lobster’s shell splits down the middle of its back, and the lobster backs out of the old shell. The new shell is initially soft, but it hardens within time as it fills with water.
A lobster’s shell continues to grow and harden throughout its lifetime. As a result, older lobsters have more significant, heavier shells than younger lobsters.
Lobsters have a closed circulatory system, meaning that the hemolymph does not circulate freely through the body cavity but within blood vessels. The lobster’s heart is located in the thorax and pumps hemolymph blood through the arteries to the rest of the body.
Lobsters’ blood is colorless, but due to the presence of hemocyanin, which contains copper, the blood turns blue when oxygenated.
How Do Lobsters Regenerate Lost Legs?
Lobsters can grow new appendages, just like the majority of crustaceans. When a lobster loses a leg, the wound triggers a physiological reaction that serves as an intrinsic injury record and a signal for regeneration!
The lobster forms fibrotic tissue on the scar. And as it heals, new blood vessels and neurons grow along with the fibrotic tissue, paving the way for regenerating fresh, functional legs.
By molting, lobsters can replace missing limbs and appendages. The lobster creates a new exoskeleton during this process and sheds its old one. When the new exoskeleton forms, the lobster can grow back any lost appendages.
Lobsters typically molt every year or two, but they can molt as often as every few months when they are young. The molting process gets triggered by a rise in hormone levels in the lobster’s body.
Although the legs take time to grow back, they will eventually regenerate to their original size.
However, a lobster’s regenerated leg will not be an identical replica of the lost leg but relatively smaller or larger and has a different number of segments than the original.
Are Lobster Legs Edible?
Sure, great meat in there! Lobster legs are full of protein and low in calories. One lobster leg has about 84 calories, 20 grams of protein, and less than a gram of fat. The meat is also a good source of omega-three fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
Lobster legs don’t have a lot of meat on them, but what is there is tender and has a mild, sweet flavor. But since you’ve got ten legs per lobster, there’s plenty to go around.
How To Extract Meat From Lobster Legs
Although the legs have some delicious flesh bits, they are the most difficult to remove. The best approach to loosen and remove the meat is to twist each leg away from the body before turning it back into its original position.
Then, bite down on the ends to release the meat scraps and lobster liquid inside and suck it out. There will be some mouth-gymnastics, so rock it. At a lobster restaurant, nobody will judge you—not even the lobsters.
If you are at home, you can cut the knuckle from the top of each leg and employ a rolling pin to roll it over every leg. Start from the end of the claw and roll toward the open end, pushing the meat out as you go. If you are patient, the lobster meat will come out in one long strip.
It takes some time and requires a lot of mouth work for a small amount of meat, but if you’re anything like us, one whole lobster is insufficient. They’ll be happy to quell the shakes by removing every last morsel from the shell.
Lobsters have ten legs which are a great source of protein and omega-three fatty acids. You can eat the lobster meat from the legs, but removing it takes some time. The sizes of different lobster subspecies vary. Enormous lobsters can grow to a maximum length of 4 feet and weigh up to 40 pounds (18 kg).