London: Like a tree, the age of a lobster can be determined by counting its rings, scientists have revealed.
The crustaceans are thought to live to more than 100, but until now there has been no way to accurately work out their age.
So far, scientists had tried to merely make educated guesses at the age of lobsters judged from their size.
But the new research shows that they and other crustaceans, like crabs and shrimp, grow one ring each year in hidden-away internal spots, said Raouf Kilada of the University of New Brunswick, Canada.
“Having the age information for any commercial species will definitely improve the stock assessment and ensure sustainability,” the Daily mail quoted him as saying after presenting his findings at a scientific conference in Portland, Oregon.
Dr Kilada and five other Canadian researchers took a closer look at lobsters, snow crabs, northern shrimp and sculptured shrimp and discovered that growth rings could be found in their eyestalk.
In lobsters and crabs, the rings were also found in the so-called ‘gastric mills,’ parts of the stomach with three teeth-like structures used to grind up food.
“We’ve thought lobsters could live to 100 years old, and this new aging technique will be a way to document that,” said Bob Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute.
The paper was published in this month’s Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, a well-regarded peer-reviewed scientific journal based in Ottawa, Ontario.