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Lobsters remember winners and losers.

Male lobsters swaggering around tanks may preserve their pecking order by remembering who has already trounced them. New evidence for this feat--pretty smart for an invertebrate--comes from Christa Karavanich of Richland College in Dallas and Jelle Atema of the Boston University Marine Program in Woods Hole, Mass.

Animals don't have to recall fights for a dominance hierarchy to stabilize. Individuals just need to pick up some status cue. A habitual loser might gush stress hormones, or frequent winners might flex a lot.

Lobsters seem more sophisticated, the researchers report in the December 1998 ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR. Working with 120 males, researchers staged duels between closely matched opponents. In the second round, males who had tangled before did not fight. The loser backed away immediately. However, strangers did fight, regardless of outcomes of earlier clashes with other opponents.

Earlier work suggests that lobsters identify each other by cues in urine released during fights. Such a feat is not beyond invertebrates. Previous work found signs of individual recognition in sweat bees and banded shrimp.
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Title Annotation:research indicates that lobsters have the ability to remember the results of fights
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 9, 1999
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