It was your basic lab experiment, akin to those bubbling in high school chemistry labs every week. In this case, the goal was to determine whether plant samples from the Ecuadorian rain forest contained chemical properties that could be used to combat diabetes. Immerse the leaves in an alcohol extract, then a water extract, and see what happens. Ho hum.

What set this particular test apart, however, was the ensuing debate--one that scientists at Shaman Pharmaceuticals, the cutting-edge company conducting the research, will never forget. At issue was whether or not to throw a live crab into the extract, just as...

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