Claim: Lobsters mate for life.
Example: [Cabot, 2005]
Origins: Folks often look to the animal kingdom for touching examples of selfless love (e.g., the brave self-sacrifice of a
The belief that lobsters mate for life has found expression in numerous ways among those in (or catering to those in) the throes of true love. Most commonly it takes the form of "You're my lobster!" declarations among those who stand firm in their beliefs that they have indeed found their soul mates. Lobster theming of this nature has appeared as wedding cake toppers,
Sadly (well, at least for those who've been intoning dewy-eyed and meaningfully to their best beloveds "You're my lobster"), there's absolutely nothing to the axiom about lobsters pairing off and being faithful to one another for the duration of their lives. Instead, these arthropods mate once, then never see each other again.
When a female lobster is ready to become a mother, she seeks out the region's reigning male lobster and pays a call to his burrow. (In addition to being den-dwelling secretive critters, lobsters are territorial and aggressive. For the purposes of our interest in their love lives, this translates to the larger and fiercer
After tarrying in her paramour's burrow for about a week, the female lobster emerges wearing her new shell and porting a sperm receptacle filled by the battle-scarred warrior she'd hooked up with. In a few months, she will release as many as 10,000 to 20,000 eggs from her ovaries, fertilizing them by pushing them through this sperm receptacle. The fertilized eggs remain glued to the underside of her tail for between 9 and
As for the father of that 10 or 20, once his
Given how lobsters actually conduct their romantic relationships, it remains a mystery how anyone could have concluded these crustaceans remain devoted to one another for all of their days.
One theory about the origin of the "lobsters mate for life" foolishness posits the television
Ross: What? Okay, now how do you know that?
Phoebe: Because she's your lobster.
Chandler: Oh, she's goin' somewhere.
Phoebe: Come on, you guys. It's a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life. You know what? You can actually see old lobster couples walkin' around their tank, you know, holding claws
As to why folks seemingly want to believe lobsters pair off for the duration (as opposed to various other critters who actually do), there's something incongruously charming about claw-waving, hard-shelled, aggressive creatures actually turning out to be exemplars of unwavering spousal devotion. "Forget about appearances," says such a belief. "Even the fiercest of the fierce are capable of great love, the depths of which we humans can only aspire to."
Barbara "unshellfish motives" Mikkelson
Last updated: 9 September 2014
Cabot, Meg. Every Boy's Got One. New York; Harper-Collins, 2005 ISBN 978-0-06-08546-9 (p. 31). Tarcher, Mallory. Rosina Saves the Day. New York; Kensington Publishing Corp, 1994. (p. 30).