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Packing a Punch
July 20, 2008 9:56 PM   Subscribe

When you first hear of a shrimp breaking out of it's tank, the prospect isn't really frightening. But when you learn that the mantis shrimp has punched through the glass container, it becomes a little more serious.

Not only does the shrimp punch over 50mph, it also boils the water around the punch. UC Berkeley's high speed cameras couldn't even capture the movement, they had to get a little help from the BBC.
posted by thatbrunette (68 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
In before "but how do they taste with cocktail sauce?"
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:00 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, nice first post, btw!
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:01 PM on July 20, 2008


Has that been posted on youtube yet? I don't have quicktime installed.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 PM on July 20, 2008


I still think I can take it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:06 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This article on their eyes is interesting too.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly sure I saw one of these on a trip in seventh grade. The instructor wasn't at all pleased with the punch he received ;)
posted by lumensimus at 10:13 PM on July 20, 2008


So, keep some butter and garlic on a plate next to the aquarium.

Seriously, that is creepy.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:23 PM on July 20, 2008


Large smashers can even make meals of crabs, buckling their thick armour as easily as they do aquarium glass. And they are often seen beating up much larger fish and octopuses, which are unfortunate enough to wander past their burrows.

At the time of writing, the mantis shrimp's punch was a strong candidate for the fastest movement in the natural world. It has since been trumped by the bite of the well-named trapjaw ant, whose mandibles close with an almost unbelievable maximum speed of 140 mph.


Right, I'm off to engineer a trapdoor mantis shrimpantopus & take over the world.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:38 PM on July 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have gotten this close to a mantis shrimp in the wild. I knew about their awesome hyperspectral trinocular rotating compound eyes and their uber-cute larval stage, but the punching power is news to me. Maybe I shouldn't have shoved the lens in its face so closely.
posted by brownpau at 10:41 PM on July 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


But who would win in a fight, a mantis shrimp or wolverine frog?
posted by homunculus at 10:45 PM on July 20, 2008


delmoi: Youtube video of mantis shrimp punching. This is the same one as the Cal Quicktime video. The cavitation comes in at 3/4 seconds in the bottom left corner.
posted by Korou at 10:51 PM on July 20, 2008


A more macroscopic demonstration of cavitation forces from mefi's own Bill Beaty.
posted by Tube at 10:51 PM on July 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


Sheila Patek's TED Talk from 2004, where she describes this discovery.
posted by Revvy at 11:06 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Another Video, longer and in real time. These things are freaky sons of bitches.
posted by clearly at 11:10 PM on July 20, 2008 [4 favorites]



Another Video, longer and in real time.


That's pretty awesome. The little crab's waving his stubby arms trying to fend it off and the shrimp is all I got yer arm right here nom nom nom.
posted by juv3nal at 11:29 PM on July 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


I feel bad for the poor crab. The shrimp ripped his little arm off and then ate it right in front of him.
posted by Justinian at 11:39 PM on July 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


See also:
The Lurker's Guide to Stomatopods,
the the Wikipedia entry,
and this article by a hobbyist.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:45 PM on July 20, 2008


That is way closer to the life cycle than I really need to be. Yipes.
posted by Dreama at 11:56 PM on July 20, 2008


Here's some lost footage from the BBC.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:56 PM on July 20, 2008


Great, now I'm terrified of shrimp and trapjaw ants. That's fast!
posted by dabitch at 12:03 AM on July 21, 2008


I wasted all those precious moments (and dollars) of my life waiting for the damn water to boil. From now on I'm going to stuff a bunch of these guys in a mirrored kettle. It'll be like a boxing gym for them and free hot water for me - I wish I knew about this before.
posted by redteam at 1:25 AM on July 21, 2008


Bah, that's nothing. The Pistol Shrimp can shoot fireballs.
posted by SciencePunk at 1:52 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


these guys are the bane of reef tank keepers...their eggs will hitchhike in on the live rock you need to set up the tank. the common name for them are 'thumbsplitters'...guess why.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:53 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shit like this makes me exceedingly glad I'm human. Plenty of awful things could happen to me today, but the odds that something will tear my arm off and eat it in front of me before bludgeoning me to death are fairly slim.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:21 AM on July 21, 2008 [21 favorites]


My mum used to threaten to "rip [my] arm off an beat [me] with the soggy end".

It always seemed like a hollow threat. Now it feels like a threat stuffed with crab meat...
posted by twine42 at 2:28 AM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's pretty awesome. The little crab's waving his stubby arms trying to fend it off and the shrimp is all I got yer arm right here nom nom nom.

Not only that...in German, the mantis shrimp goes by the horrifying name of FANGSCHRECKENKREBS.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:58 AM on July 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


Slow and steady wins the day, too. I had a fish that sucked up pebbles and blew them at the exact same spot on the tank every day for years until it finally broke the glass. I'm sure he felt that in science, a negative result is still a result.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:07 AM on July 21, 2008 [17 favorites]


/files "Is that a mantis shrimp in your trousers or are you just glad to see me" line away in brain for future use
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:19 AM on July 21, 2008


I was all ready to be impressed just by The Mighty Thwack, but the description made it sound like such an effort to wind the shrimpy-bludgeon-club up that the high rate of fire available took me completely by surprise.

I hereby declare that all the waters around Nuclear Plants with poor safety records be immediately checked to be clear of these things.
posted by Brockles at 4:50 AM on July 21, 2008


Can't sleep ... mantis shrimp'll get me.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 5:03 AM on July 21, 2008


Falcon PUNCH!



That is all
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 5:04 AM on July 21, 2008


Prawnographic!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:05 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

The ocean scares the shit out of me.
posted by gc at 5:50 AM on July 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think they're cute. Hello to Christmas 2008's #1 novelty gift item! (DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PICK SHRIMP UP WITHOUT SUITABLE PROTECTIVE APPAREL.)
posted by Ritchie at 5:55 AM on July 21, 2008


Several of these pages claim that they strike with the force of a rifle bullet.

The video that clearly posted shows a crab still clearly alive, and ostensibly putting up a (futile and ineffective) show at fighting back, after literally two dozen punches.

I'm finding it hard to believe that that crab would be alive after two dozen rifle shots.
posted by Flunkie at 6:10 AM on July 21, 2008


Mantis Shrimp Facts:posted by Galvatron at 6:11 AM on July 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


sciencepunk:
Bah, that's nothing. The Pistol Shrimp can shoot fireballs.
Uh, the method of doing that is cavitation great enough to produce heat and light, which is exactly what happens here, too.
posted by Flunkie at 6:14 AM on July 21, 2008


in German, the mantis shrimp goes by the horrifying name of FANGSCHRECKENKREBS

Man, EVERYTHING sounds more dangerous in German.
posted by contessa at 6:15 AM on July 21, 2008


Chuck Norris has a mantis shrimp for a sparring partner.
posted by spicynuts at 6:21 AM on July 21, 2008


So powerful, yet so succinct...
posted by Navelgazer at 6:23 AM on July 21, 2008


The mantis shrimp is neither a mantis, nor a shrimp. Talk amongst yourselves....
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 6:24 AM on July 21, 2008


its its its its its
posted by nax at 6:24 AM on July 21, 2008


H'awesome. Great post. This is why I love ScienceBlogs so much, it's so chock full of this kind of stuff. It seldom disappoints. Would you like to read a story about some conjoined twins who happen to be birds? Of course you do!
posted by wowbobwow at 6:36 AM on July 21, 2008


its its its its its

I believe the phrase you're looking for is 'a ballroom blitz'.
posted by spicynuts at 6:49 AM on July 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


Punching and shrimp, perforations and shrimp, cavitation and shrimp, arm-ripping and shrimp, glass-breaking and shrimp, fireballs and shrimp, terror and shrimp...
posted by kirkaracha at 6:56 AM on July 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ha! When I was little kid, my family was on vacation in Belize, and out in the water I found one of these fellows in his hole. I spent a couple days checking on him, dropping little stones down there, poking him with sticks. Little did I know he could have given me a shiner.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:00 AM on July 21, 2008


--
In before "but how do they taste with cocktail sauce?"
--
So, keep some butter and garlic on a plate next to the aquarium.
--

Actually, I may have eaten one of these. There was a whole spread of them in the buffet at the Holiday Inn in Guangzhou, China. Nobody had a clue what they were, so I just called them "bug shrimp."

As far as I could tell, they weren't cooked, but maybe they stay a dull gray/brown when cooked. I couldn't figure out how to eat mine, and I just ended up scooping a few tiny white bits out of the long "tail" section. Those bits were pretty tasty, though.
posted by whatnotever at 7:06 AM on July 21, 2008


Just wait until one day they're punching through your skull.

"SCREE SCREE SUCK ON THE HEADS HUMANS ARE DELICIOUS SCREE SREE."

That's how they talk, btw.
posted by The Straightener at 7:14 AM on July 21, 2008 [8 favorites]


I prefer my appetizers on the docile side, myself. I'm pretty sure nachos have never punched a hole in anything.
posted by tommasz at 8:18 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, The Straightener, mantis shrimp sound more like screaming in slow motion: http://youtube.com/watch?v=RHTTIg7HY80
posted by linux at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2008


That, by the way, was the same TED talk posted above. But as always, the YouTube link is easier to access.
posted by linux at 8:53 AM on July 21, 2008


I linked to this mantis shrimp video last year. Little fuckers still creep me out. (I think it's the fact that you can hear the 'popping' so clearly outside the aquarium...)
posted by quin at 9:10 AM on July 21, 2008


That's the worst claw shrimp bite I've ever seen!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:32 AM on July 21, 2008


What a bad ass little creature!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:36 AM on July 21, 2008


I'm pretty sure nachos have never punched a hole in anything.

Maybe not on the way in...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:00 AM on July 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Now THIS was both an educational and entertaining thread! Great post.
posted by spock at 10:36 AM on July 21, 2008


MANTIS SHRIMP HULK SMASH!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:42 AM on July 21, 2008


They named the friggin' thing TYSON and they thought that they could contain it behind a quarter-inch of glass?

FAIL.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2008


They named the friggin' thing TYSON and they thought that they could contain it behind a quarter-inch of glass?

FAIL.


I hope someone posts some pictures of the now long abandoned aquarium.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:55 AM on July 21, 2008


Fascinating post and comments. Thanks, all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:41 PM on July 21, 2008


WALL-E?
posted by TungstenChef at 12:53 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


No seriously, these things terrify me.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:59 PM on July 21, 2008


whatnotever: there isn't much meat in a mantis shrimp and, as you say, it's quite difficult to eat. It's actually easier to break them with crackers and 'suck' the tiny bits of meat out (as you would do with a crab arm) but the sharp edges on the shell mean is not really that easy anyway.

However, mantis shrimps add a lot of flavour to soups, bisques and risotto stock and that's why they can be found in most markets in Mediterranean countries.

After whatching all those videos, I'll have a lot more respect for mantis shrimps next time I add a couple of them to my fish stock.
posted by blogenstock at 1:26 PM on July 21, 2008


Man, EVERYTHING sounds more dangerous in German.

"alles"?!??

well, maybe as part of a longer phrase...
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:05 PM on July 21, 2008


The video that clearly posted shows a crab still clearly alive, and ostensibly putting up a (futile and ineffective) show at fighting back, after literally two dozen punches.

I thought it looked like the shrimp was just having a bit of fun with its victim, like a cat with a dazed mouse.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:08 PM on July 21, 2008


1.) I'm glad I'm human sized.

2.) Mantis shrimp never evolved to breathe air from fear of Chuck Norris.

3.) If the various weird-assed shrimp band together, we are _so_ boned.
posted by djrock3k at 4:08 PM on July 21, 2008


If Aquaman could do that, he wouldn't be such a wuss.
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:48 PM on July 21, 2008


I thought I was scared of shrimps before, but oh my god, this little bastard is going to be starring in my nightmares tonight. I had to stop watching the video of it punching the crab because the wincing and grimacing was getting to be uncomfortable. Shuuuudder.
posted by crinklebat at 9:16 PM on July 21, 2008


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