Fun with Lobsters

Jordan Peterson recommends warmly1 to read this book2 I am going to quote from. "If you want to do some serious thinking about lobsters", he says, "this is a good place to start". Well okay, let's do some serious thinking about lobsters:

Observers of the natural world as far back as Aristotle have wondered how lobster sex works. In the fourteenth century the Italian philosopher and physician Simone Porzio wrote that the lobster's "organs of sex and reproduction are constructed in such a way that I cannot discover any obvious way in which the seed of the male could be ejaculated, poured, or otherwise introduced into the body of the female." The problem was that the male lobster appeared not to have a penis.

Wow, that's ... strange. But as Peterson says: "Look for your inspiration to the victorious lobster". The Lobster might have appeared to Simone Porzio not to have a penis, but an impressive specimen he is to Peterson nevertheless. But there's more to the story:

Later investigators thought they had discovered the secret of this vexing omission in the male lobster's swimmerets. Male and female lobsters both possess these little fins, arranged in five pairs along the underside of the tail. But the male's first pair, located at the midriff, are quite unlike those of the female. Instead of the flexible, flattened flippers that adorn the rest of his tail, the male's first pair are hard and pointy. Perhaps it wasn't that the male lobster was missing a penis, but that he had two.

Uhuh ... how awkward. I just hope Peterson's followers are not going to develop too much of an inferiority complex here. Well don't bother. Just remember Peterson's comment: "Lobsters have more in common with you than you might think", he says, "(particularly when you are feeling crabby—ha ha)". The Professor appears to have some sort of humor. But there's still more to the story:

In the 1830s the French naturalist Henri Milne-Edwards, who gave the American lobster its scientific name of Homarus americanus, put an end to this speculation.

Finally. Sigh.

The male lobster's two members, Milne-Edwards wrote, couldn't possibly penetrate the female, on account of their small size.

Oops. Not good. What should all the lobster girls think of this? Peterson explains, "the female lobsters [...] identify the top guy quickly, and become irresistibly attracted to him", and he goes on saying, "this is brilliant strategy, in my estimation". Mhmm, okayyy, maybe the number of the mentioned members makes up for their tiny size in Peterson's estimation.

  1. Jordan B. Peterson: 12 Rules for Life. Allen Lane, 2018, Endnote 2. 

  2. Trevor Corson: The secret life of lobsters. How fishermen and scientists are unraveling the mysteries of our favorite crustacean. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.