One-Punch Shrimp

Baby mantis shrimp pack a serious punch — watch

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Mantis shrimp are some of nature’s most deceptive predators.

Despite their size, the crustaceans punch above their weight with a strike that can kill prey in a single blow.

They’re known for punches fast enough to break glass and boil the water around them through pressure.

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While the adult mantis shrimp has been well documented, scientists didn’t know as much about baby mantis shrimps’ abilities — until recently.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology now shows when — and how powerfully — the mantis shrimp develops its pulverizing punch.

J. Harrison, et al. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY (2021)

Researchers from several U.S. universities collaborated to collect samples of minute larval mantis shrimp and record their movements using specialized camera rigs.

J. Harrison, et al. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY (2021)

Their work shows that mantis shrimp as young as nine days old can perform the punishing strikes that make them such fearsome predators.

Because mantis shrimp larvae are translucent, the footage the researchers collected also shows how their muscles contract as they wind up to deliver a killing blow.

J. Harrison, et al. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY (2021)

Both larvae and adults have a saddle-like structure in their arms that stores energy to be released in a single punch. Mantis shrimp larvae’s strikes accelerate as fast as adults’.

J. Harrison, et al. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY (2021)

J. Harrison, et al. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY (2021)

At just 4.2 millimeters long, larval mantis shrimp propel their punches at 0.385 meters per second, compared to 23 meters per second in adults— which is still plenty fast, making them impressive predators barely more than a week after they’re born.

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