How Did Odd Lobster Get Six Claws?

We dare you to high five this lobster.

Amazingly, you could. Lola, a 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) lobster with five claws on her left side, was caught off Hyannis, Massachusetts, last week by the F/V Rachel Leah (from the TV show Lobster Wars) and donated to Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay Harbor.

lobster picture
Lola was caught last week off Massachusetts. Photograph courtesy Maine State Aquarium

Claw abnormalities occur when a set of regulatory genes that dictate growth give the wrong signal. They also sometimes occur when a lobster regenerates a claw after losing one, experts say.

The multiclawed crustacean got to meet the public briefly before being pulled off display due to health concerns, aquarium manager Aimee Hayden-Roderiques told National Geographic.

Aquarium staff believe that Lola was in the molting process at the time she was caught and was acclimating to the aquarium system, she said.

“It’s standard protocol for us to pull any potentially molting lobster off exhibit for their protection.”

After they shed their exoskeleton, lobsters “become this soft, water balloon-version of a lobster,” and then hide until they regrow their shell, she said. A lot of them eat their old shell to get the calcium necessary to regrow a new one. “We definitely have to keep them separated until they harden enough to be exhibit-worthy again.”

lobster picture
Lola’s claws are likely due to a genetic glitch. Photograph courtesy Maine State Aquarium

Hayden-Roderiques added there’s no guarantee that Lola will regrow her unique claw after the molting process. (Also see photo: “Lobster Caught ‘Half-Cooked’ in Maine.”)

An Oddity Among Oddities

Though a six-clawed lobster is an oddity, Lola will be among her own kind there.

That’s because Maine State Aquarium seems to be the place for unique lobsters. The aquarium houses lobsters with a variety of color variations like orange, blue, and calico, as well as a 20-pounder (we assume that one gets lots of dinner invites) and several other lobsters with unique claw mutations. (Read about a bright-blue lobster caught in 2012.)

But Lola is a catch.  Even the aquarium’s seasoned marine scientist, David Libby from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, was so impressed by the six claws that he told the Bangor Daily News that his 40 years of experience with ocean creatures was “apparently not enough.”

What’s more, Lola has to be the friendliest lobster in world… Well, at least she always looks like she’s waving.

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  1. Marushka France
    September 16, 2015, 9:37 pm

    genetic instability – multiple digits and a lot more horrific conditions – are becoming more common because of increased global radiation
    Herman J. Muller 1927 paper, proved that radiation causes genetic mutations that increase in subsequent generations… which is why we are randomly seeing more genetic mutations in species.

    “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”
    by Alexey Yablokov, Vasily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko
    NY Academy of Sciences, Volume 1181, 2009.
    5,000 Slavic language studies reviews, over 1,400 cited.
    free download

  2. Elysia
    September 17, 2013, 11:27 am


  3. Bill Bass
    Easley, SC
    September 16, 2013, 11:04 pm

    This may be the reverse of “ectrodactyly” (i.e. lobster claw syndrome). The claws on this lobster are arranged like fingers, even down to the one enlarged and opposed “thumb”. Perhaps this should be called “human hand syndrome”?

    If the conditon persists through a molt, it may be genetic. If so, it suggests that there is possibly a single gene that signals if four fingers form or if they are fused into one.

  4. Liz
    September 15, 2013, 8:28 pm

    I am glad they gave it to the aquarium so others can see it…..

  5. Sohail Saha
    September 15, 2013, 1:12 pm

    That must be a genetic disorder…caused by radioactive radiations…

  6. Elizabeth
    Hampton, NH
    September 15, 2013, 4:02 am

    People in my area are saying this little lady was born just off the Seabrook Nuclear Plant. They are trying to be funny, but it’s really not!

  7. gg
    September 14, 2013, 10:48 pm

    is this a result from Japan nuclear pollution in ocean??

  8. Markus H
    September 14, 2013, 8:33 pm

    Leave her alone ffs

  9. valeria
    September 14, 2013, 3:36 pm

    That is the weirdest mutation I have ever seen!!!

  10. Jesse
    September 14, 2013, 11:46 am


  11. Benjamin
    September 14, 2013, 7:42 am


  12. Justin Case
    West Texas
    September 14, 2013, 4:22 am

    Look out humans… the lobsters are evolving.

  13. Eric
    September 14, 2013, 3:35 am

    can I have the lobster?!

  14. raul
    September 13, 2013, 1:41 pm


  15. Jason
    September 13, 2013, 7:58 am

    If they lose their claw it grows back, when the claw gets crushed or half torn away it causes confusion for their regeneration.

  16. Amy
    United States
    September 12, 2013, 8:44 pm

    if she’s so beautiful, and so friendly, than why take her out of her environment and put her on display and live a life on display? The creatures on this earth are not for our taking, but certainly for our appreciating.

  17. Brandon
    September 12, 2013, 7:37 pm

    Strange but cool at the same time

  18. Benjamin
    September 12, 2013, 7:31 pm

    I want to give that lobster a hive five!