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The Amazing Mantis Shrimp February 4, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Diving Books and Films, Ecology.
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I was just watching a video from my favourite podcast source, ted.com (you can watch directly from the site or subscribe to the Podcast feed, I do the latter and watch them on my iPod on the way to and from work). This talk was from UC Berkley biologist Sheila Patek who researched the speed of the Mantis Shrimp‘s feeding strike. This little shrimp has an appendage that strikes prey at amazing speed to either spear it, or in another variety club it. The latter type of shrimp bashes a snail so hard it can break it shell.

Her research project measured the amazing speed of the strike – even more amazing when you consider that it also has to overcome the resistance of water. The appendage moves so fast that it causes cavitation, which actually vapourizing some of the water (causing another shock wave to hit the hapless snail).

In order to make accurate measurements, she was helped by a BBC film crew that chanced upon her lab. The high speed low light camera filmed at a rate of 20,000 frames per second, which she shows running at 15 frames per second. Incredible.

This video, like almost everything on TED, is well worth watching.

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