How ‘Smashing’ & ‘Spearing’ Shrimp Speedily Attack Prey
by Douglas Main
Spearing mantis shrimp hide in their burrows and wait for an unsuspecting creature to come along. Then, in the blink of an eye, they spear it with their long claws, like an underwater archer. How do they spear their prey so quickly?
Maya deVries, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, compared the attack of the spearing shrimp with its relative, the “smasher” shrimp. Both animals are able to unleash quick attacks with a strange spring and latch system that stores up energy in their muscles and releases it in an instant. It’s like a bow and arrow, she said.
Unexpectedly, she found that smasher mantis shrimp can move much more quickly than the spearing variety, which is the opposite of what was expected. The smashers, she found, need quick speeds to produce enough force to crack the shells of their prey, such as crabs and other shellfish. The spearing shrimp, on the other hand, only needs to move slightly faster than their prey, she said…
(read more: LiveScience) (photo: Roy Caldwell/UC Berkeley)