Putting Muhammad Ali to shame
While Muhammad Ali trained hard to be the great boxer that he was, the Peacock mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, has all the talent – it is born a natural boxing machine. Sporting two hammer-like claws, the mantis shrimp can deliver blows with astounding speeds of up to 102,000 m/s2 , similar to a .22 caliber bullet. Remarkably, all these unfolds in 25 one-thousandths of a second, making the Mantis shrimp the animal with the fastest punch in the entire animal kingdom.
Not surprisingly, the shrimp uses its amazing gift to terrorize its preys. The shrimp smashes up snails, crabs, clams and other shelled animals to gain access to the soft tissue underneath. They are also aggressive territorial animals that frequently put their hammers at each other to mark their spaces. In fact, they are so aggressive that courtship dances frequently have to be performed by visiting shrimps to assure targeted mates that they are here to make love and not war.
Peacock mantis shrimp smashing up a shellfish
The peacock mantis shrimp has long been a figure of hate for fisherman and aquarists.
A Californian fisherman has had a “three-quarter inch flesh wound that actually exposed the bone of his thumb”. As such, they are not-so-affectionately referred to as the thumb-splitters.
These shrimps spend most of their time hiding, either in rock formations or the seabed; hence, aquarists sometimes accidentally introduce them into their aquariums through live rocks. Once introduced the shrimp can be a huge nuisance by slaughtering and preying on all the other animals. They have also been reported to be capable of smashing the glass walls of the aquarium if there is a lack of space.
However, for all its toughness, the shrimp is still unable to escape the dinner plates of the Japanese who frequently makes sashimi out of them.
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S. N. Patek, W. L. Korff & R. L. Caldwell, 2004, Biomechanics: Deadly strike mechanism of a mantis shrimp, Nature 428, 819-820
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