10 December 2009

Attack of the Giant Lobsters?

The big science experiment of the month seems to come from Prof. Justin B. Ries at the University of North Carolina, who raised various forms of shellfish in water with high concentrations of carbon dioxide. The concentrations that climate scientists predict will come about as carbon dioxide continues to build up in our atmosphere.

The result: lobsters, blue crabs, and five other tested species grew significantly bigger.
But pencil urchins and nine other species grew smaller. Mussels didn’t seem to notice.

When I read this finding, I couldn’t help remembering the 1978 Saturday Night Live episode that ended with giant lobsters attacking the studio. Originally Michael O’Donoghue and colleagues wrote that script for guest host Buck Henry, but it was shelved. Bits surfaced in the first SNL book, published in 1977.

Then on 24 Jan 1978 a Soviet satellite with a radioactive power source crashed in northern Canada. SNL pulled out the old script for that week’s show, hosted by Robert Klein. And the attack of the atomic lobsters was on! (Never mind that the satellite came down far from the ocean.) Here’s more of the behind-the-scenes story from writer Tom Davis.


Melissa Stewart said...

Isn't this an interesting finding? Plants are also responding in a wide variety of ways--growing faster, growing slower, leafing out and flowering at different times--in similar studies. Same is true of insects--hatching sooner or later than "normal", metamorphosing at different rates.

Bigger lobster might seem like a good thing, but think about what will happen if there are no leaves for newly hatched caterpillars to devour or no big, juicy caterpillars for baby birds to eat. And that's just the beginning.

I'm liking this new science-y spin to your blog.

J. L. Bell said...

Most of my comments on scientific discoveries come through Chemical & Engineering News.

david elzey said...

i remember that SNL skit and treasure my copy of that book (i still own it, xmas gift from back in the day) to this day. i was just explaining the old "land shark" skit recently and thinking about the early days of SNL.

David Maxine said...

What's scary is that Julia Child sites references to lobsters being found that were up to six feet long in the mid-late 1800s. She sites the demise of super-sized jumbo lobsters as over-fishing. If the natural maximum size of lobsters is up to six feet in the 1800s I hate to think what the new co2 levels may bring! Perhaps lobster will be the new cattle? Yummy!