Sunday, July 19, 2009

Entry: Mantis Shrimp

Another urgent text message regarding a Wiki article, this time from Ziggy! Ah, the benefits of surrounding oneself with irredeemable nerds.

The first thing that struck me about the article was, of course, the colorful photo:

"Oooh!" I said to myself, "How pretty! The mantis shrimp must be the geisha of the sea."

But then I actually set about reading and gaining information!

The mantis shrimp is cold-blooded, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. The hundreds of species of mantis shrimp are separated into groups by what kind of claws they have: spearers have appendages with barbed tips, while smashers have "possess a much more developed club and a more rudimentary spear". Shrimps got spears.

On top of that, they are very good at using their claws for carnage: "In smashers, these two weapons are employed with blinding quickness...about the acceleration of a .22 caliber bullet. Because they strike so rapidly, they generate cavitation bubbles between the appendage and the striking surface. The collapse of these cavitation bubbles produces measurable forces on their prey in addition to the instantaneous forces of 1,500 newton that are caused by the impact of the appendage against the striking surface, which means that the prey is hit twice by a single strike; first by the claw and then by the collapsing cavitation bubbles that immediately follow. Even if the initial strike misses the prey, the resulting shock wave can be enough to kill or stun the prey." Shrimps will cut you. With physics.

Additionally, their eyes can move independently of each other and can see both ultraviolet and infrared. And they exhibit high intelligence and complex social behavior.

So, in conclusion, my original hypothesis was wrong. Mantis shrimp are the samurai of the sea.

There's a lot of detailed information in the Wiki article, but it leaves a lot of questions. Why haven't mantis shrimp conquered humans yet? Is there an ongoing government project to transplant crazy shrimp eyes into human subjects, making a hybrid supersoldier? What is my obsession with analogies comparing marine life with Japanese stereotypes? The world may never know.


StefRobrts said...

Looks like they're working on conquering us next:

"and now sometimes referred to as "thumb splitters" by modern divers — because of the relative ease the creature has in mutilating small appendages"

Yikes! I bow down to our new shrimpy overlords!

Elana said...

Holy crap!! That's crazy!

Anonymous said...

jajaja funny animal, really looks like a religious mantis, I hear that in some part of the world is considered the Generic Viagra of the sea, also I hear that this animal like it land cousin is a excellent fighter.