BOWDOINHAM, Maine (Reuters) - It's not quite winning the lottery, but the odds are about as remote: A lobsterman off the coast of Maine recently hauled in an almost perfectly two-toned lobster - half orange, half brown.
The chances, according to scientists, are approximately 1-in-50 million.
"It looked as if someone had taken painter's tape and run it from proboscis to tail, then spray-painted one side. It's a perfectly straight line," said Alan Lishness, of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. "You don't usually see such hard edges in nature."
American lobsters are typically greenish-brown in color, and become red only after boiling.
The lobster was caught by Jeff Edwards, a lobsterman from Owl's Head, who kept it to show friends and family, then brought it to the Ship to Shore Lobster Co, a local fisherman's wharf, according to co-owner Anna Mason.
"We've had blue ones and calico ones, but we'd never seen anything like this," said Mason.
After photographing the lobster the lobsterman donated it to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, a nonprofit marine science center in Portland, which keeps lobsters in a tank for children's education programs.
"This one just stops people in their tracks," said the institute's Lishness. "Even people who've seen thousands of lobsters just can't believe it."
Lishness said the split-colored lobster is far more uncommon than the yellow or blue lobster, which both make occasional appearances along the Maine Coast, but is at least twice as likely to turn up in a lobster trap than an albino, the rarest of all lobster mutations.
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood, editing by Scott Malone and Prudence Crowther)