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