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Last updated at 13:17 BST, Friday, 13 June 2014

Crustaceans may feel anxiety

Summary

13 June 2014

Crustaceans may be able to feel some emotion. That's the conclusion of French researchers whose findings have been published in the journal Science. The research follows a number of studies that suggest crustaceans can also feel pain. Some experts say the seafood industry may need to reconsider how it treats these creatures.

Reporter:
Rebecca Morelle

A crab

Some studies suggest crustaceans can also feel pain

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It was thought that only humans and "intelligent" animals could experience anxiety – but this research suggests that crayfish may experience a form of this emotion too.

When the crustaceans were exposed to a stressful situation – in this case an unpleasant electric field – they subsequently behaved far more cautiously, staying hidden in the darker parts of their tank.

But when the stressed crayfish were given an anti-anxiety drug, they stopped being so wary and moved into light, more exposed areas.

The fact that these animals may get anxious adds to a number of studies that suggest crustaceans also feel pain. Scientists say it suggests the welfare should be improved for these creatures, which are not currently classified as sentient by the food industry.

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Vocabulary

experience

(here) feel

electric field

area where there is a force generated by an electric charge

cautiously

carefully

wary

on guard; looking out for danger

welfare

health and happiness; well-being

classified

designated, considered as

sentient

able to experience sensations and feelings

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