Clawed lobsters comprise a family (Nephropidae, sometimes also Homaridae) of large marine crustaceans. They are important as an animal, a business and a food.
They are not to be confused with spiny lobsters, which have no claws (chelae), and are not closely related. The closest relatives of clawed lobsters are the reef lobster Enoplometopus and the three families of freshwater crayfish.
Smaller varieties are sometimes called "lobsterettes". Lobsters are invertebrates, and have a tough exoskeleton, which protects them. Like all arthropods, lobsters must molt in order to grow, leaving them vulnerable during this time. Lobsters are considered a food delicacy around the world. In Europe, they are extremely expensive; in some parts of North America, much less so.
Lobsters live on rocky, sandy, or muddy bottoms from the shoreline to beyond the edge of the continental shelf. They generally live singly in crevices or in burrows under rocks.
Lobsters are primarily scavengers, feeding on mollusks and decaying animal matter, but will also eat live fish, dig for clams, and feed on algae and eel-grass. An average adult lobster is about nine inches (230 mm) long and weighs 1.5 to 2 pounds (700 to 900 g). Lobsters grow throughout their lives, though, and are long-lived. They can thus reach impressive sizes. According to the Guinness World Records, the largest lobster was caught in Nova Scotia, Canada and weighed 20.14 kg (44.4 lb).
The environmental conditions of the lobsters can vary from ocean to ocean, but the lobster's temperature environment does not fluctuate much since their home is large mass of water, the ocean.
Like all arthropods, lobsters are largely bilaterally symmetrical; clawed lobsters often possess unequal, specialized claws, like the stone crab. The anatomy of the lobster includes the cephalothorax which is the head fused with the thorax, both of which are covered by the carapace, and the abdomen. The lobster's head consists of antennae, antennules, mandibles, the first and second maxillae, and the first, second, and third maxillipeds. Because a lobster lives in a murky environment at the bottom of the ocean, its vision is poor and it mostly uses its antennae as sensors. The abdomen of the lobster includes swimmerets and its tail is composed of uropods and the telson.
Most lobster comes from the north-eastern coast of North America with the Canadian Maritimes and the state of Maine being the largest producers. They are caught using lobster traps. These devices made of net and wood are baited and lowered to the sea floor. They allow a lobster to enter, but make it impossible for them to turn around and exit. This allows the creatures to be captured alive. The traps have a buoy floating on the surface and lobster fishermen check their traps daily.
Prior to the 20th century, lobster wasn't popular as food. In the Maritimes, eating lobster was considered a mark of poverty. Outside of the rural outports lobster was sold canned, losing much of its flavour.
The reputation of lobster changed with the development of the modern transportation industry that allowed live lobsters to be shipped from the outports to large urban centres. Fresh lobster quickly became a luxury good and a tourist attraction for the Maritimes and Maine and an export to Europe and Japan where it is especially expensive.
Lobster is normally cooked by putting them while live in a pot of boiling water. Some consider this method cruel. More humane ways of killing them include inserting a knife into the back of their head and slicing downward, and freezing them for 15 minutes before boiling.  The apparent cruelty of boiling lobsters alive was challenged in a Norwegian study released in February of 2005, which determined that lobsters cannot feel pain due to their diminished central nervous system capacity. 
Lobster is best eaten fresh, and they are normally purchased live. Restaurants that serve lobster keep a tank of the live creatures, often allowing patrons to pick their own.
The shell of the lobster makes eating them a slow process, requiring a number of implements. The majority of the meat is in the tail and the two front claws, but smaller quantities can be found in the legs and torso.
Lobsters are often eaten plain or with butter, lobster can be cut up and used in a wide array of dishes. One popular way of serving lobster was to combine it with steak in what became known by the 1960s as surf and turf.
In Canada, Shediac, New Brunswick promotes itself as the "Lobster Capital of the World".
- Atlantic deep-sea lobster (Acanthacaris caeca)
- Prickly deep-sea lobster (Acanthacaris tenuimana)
- Red lobster (Eunephrops bairdii)
- Sculptured lobster (Eunephrops cadenasi)
- Banded lobster (Eunephrops manningi)
American lobster (Homarus americanus)
Cape lobster (Homarus capensis)
European lobster (Homarus gammarus)
- Andaman lobster (Metanephrops andamanicus)
- Arafura lobster (Metanephrops arafurensis)
- Armored lobster (Metanephrops armatus)
- Northwest lobster (Metanephrops australensis)
- Caribbean lobsterette (Metanephrops binghami)
- New Zealand lobster (Metanephrops challengeri)
- Formosa lobster (Metanephrops formosanus)
- Japanese lobster (Metanephrops japonicus)
- African lobster (Metanephrops mozambicus)
- Neptune lobster (Metanephrops neptunus)
- Urugavian lobster (Metanephrops rubellus)
- Sculpted lobster (Metanephrops sagamiensis)
- Siboga lobster (Metanephrops sibogae)
- China lobster (Metanephrops sinensis)
- Red-banded lobster (Metanephrops thomsoni)
- Velvet lobster (Metanephrops velutinus)
- Bight lobster (Metanephrops boschmai)
- Mitten lobsterette (Nephropides caribaeus)
Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus)
- Spinetail lobsterette (Nephropsis acanthura)
- Florida lobsterette (Nephropsis aculeata)
- Prickly lobsterette (Nephropsis agassizii)
- Scarlet lobsterette (Nephropsis atlantica)
- Ridge-back lobsterette (Nephropsis carpenteri)
- Gladiator lobsterette (Nephropsis ensirostris)
- Saya de Malha lobsterette (Nephropsis malhaensis)
- Ruby lobsterette (Nephropsis neglecta)
- Pacific lobsterette (Nephropsis occidentalis)
- Rosy (or Two-toned) lobsterette (Nephropsis rosea)
- Indian Ocean lobsterette (Nephropsis stewarti)
- Red and White lobsterette (Nephropsis suhmi)
- Grooved lobsterette (Nephropsis sulcata)
- Bellator lobster (Thymopides grobovi)
- Patagonian lobsterette (Thymops birsteini)
- Nilenta lobsterette (Thymopsis nilenta)
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04