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A pigment-protein complex modified by heat
Many crustaceans (lobsters, shrimps, etc.) change color when cooked and become much redder than when alive. The heat indeed modifies the interaction between the pigments of their shell and some proteins, resulting in this color change. Their exoskeleton is rich in astaxanthin, an orange pigment from the carotenoid family, but the absorption of crustacyanin, a protein found in plankton, changes the structure of this pigment and the wavelengths of light it absorbs. This pigment-protein complex returning mostly blue wavelengths confers a camouflage advantage to living crustaceans. When cooked, the crustacyanin breaks down under the effect of heat and releases the orange pigment that makes cooked crustaceans more appetizing.
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