“And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy.”
The spiny lobster is a social creature. Lobsters like to congregate in groups in crevices and cooperate in defending their home against danger. When they migrate, they walk head to tail in single-file groups.
However, researchers have noted that certain lobster lairs contained only one lobster. They also noted that some of these loners did not appear healthy. Upon further study, they found that the lobsters that looked unwell were infected with a virus they named PaV1. That virus, they learned, is commonly spread by physical contact, although young lobsters can be infected through water contaminated with the virus. Further, underwater surveys revealed that even when the disease is not apparent, healthy lobsters avoid those infected with the virus. While 56 percent of the healthy lobsters were found sharing a lair, only 7 percent of the infected lobsters shared living space. In lab tests, 60 percent of the healthy lobsters avoided a hiding place it if had an infected lobster in it. Scientists don’t know how the healthy lobsters can sense the virus, but it is obvious that they do and they avoid their sick comrades.
Before the advent of modern medicine, people knew to avoid others with obvious diseases like leprosy. It appears that God also gave the same ability to sense disease and avoid contact with it to the lowly lobster.
Notes: Science News, 5/27/06, pp. 325-326, S. Milius, “Lobster Hygiene.”
Photo: Courtesy of Stemonitis. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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