Do Lobsters Really Scream When You Put Them in Boiling Water?

Do lobsters really scream when you put them in boiling water? Or is it a myth?

David Foster Wallace, in Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays, explored this question exhaustively. But once again, the answer is: Absolutely not. They don’t have vocal chords or any other means of vocalization. Dr. Robert Bayer, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences at the University of Maine and director of the research organization the Lobster Institute, says if there’s any noise at all when the lobster hits the pot, it might be air coming out of its stomach through its mouth parts. “But it’s nothing that even resembles a scream,” says Bayer.

If they don’t scream, are they suffering in silence? Bayer’s Lobster Institute holds that the invertebrates have such primitive nervous systems (they have no brain and 100,000 neurons versus a human’s 100 billion) that they don’t feel pain. A 2005 study financed by the Norwegian government reinforced this view.