Rare two-toned lobster intensifies coloration

Two toned lobster

The two-toned lobster named Harley Quinn (center) has intensified its coloring every time it molts. Its previous shells are also displayed here with Amy McFarlane of Scarborough Sea Life Center. Photo by Caters News Agency used by permission.

Harley Quinn, a star attraction at the Scarborough Sea Life Center in Britain, added to its legacy recently when it shed its shell and emerged with newer, more vibrant colors, leaving the crustacean with its most brilliant coloring to date, according to MailOnline.

The two-toned lobster, said to be a 1-in-50,000,000 rarity, was caught by a fisherman in 2010 and donated to Sea Life, which cares for the crustacean and has it on public display.

The fact that its claws are the same colors as the opposite side of its body adds to its rarity.

Since its arrival in North Yorkshire, Harley Quinn has molted twice, and each time it has emerged with more striking colorations. Molting, incidentally, is a process in which a lobster grows. The exterior shell can't grow, so the lobster develops a new shell and craws out of the old shell, leaving it behind (see video at bottom).

Two toned lobster

Two-toned lobster held by Amy McFarlane of Sea Life; photo by Caters News Agency used by permission.

When it was first captured, it featured a yellow, red, and black body.

"Whereas he was a reddish-black on one side and sandy color on the other, he has now adopted a deep electric blue down one side [and bright orange on the other]," Amy McFarlane of Sea Life told MailOnline.

Sea Life officials have preserved the old shells for comparison, as you can see in the photo above with the living Harley Quinn in the middle.

"The process is much the same with normal lobsters, but I've never seen one that's half and half with a weird transfer of color on its claws," a Sea Life spokesman told MailOnline. "He looks like an old-fashioned Harlequin jester."

Harlequins were comical servant characters from ancient Italian theatre who wore colorful, checkered costumes. Harley Quinn's name is derived from them.

The two-toned coloration is the result of a genetic mutation.

"There have been unusual colored lobsters found in the past, but he is remarkable because he has two colors separated by a near perfect straight line along the back of his carapace," McFarlane told MailOnline.

"He’s such a striking individual, he did extremely well to avoid predators like conger eels and seals when he was in the open sea. Now safe from attack, he could live another sixty or seventy years."

Who knows what type of coloring Harley will have by then.

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