The mantis shrimp fights fiercely to steal burrows from rivals

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Ricky Joseph

The mantis shrimp lives up to its name - mantis is an English word for praying mantis. However, the animal has nothing to do with a praying mantis (nor a shrimp). But it is the praying mantis from Kung Fu Panda that the mantis shrimp resembles. The small and powerful shrimp is an expert in fighting. One of the reasons it fights is to rob the houses of its rivals in search of a better burrow.

Although it bears that name, the mantis shrimp is not exactly a shrimp. They also call it the boxer lobster, but it's not a lobster either. In fact, the lobster and the shrimp look more like each other than the praying mantis shrimp. While taxonomically it belongs to the Order Stomatopoda, shrimps and lobsters belong to the Order Decapoda. They are only similar in class - Malacostraca. They areas third cousins.

The secret of strength

This group of crustaceans is never happy. They like very tight burrows that are just about their own size. It's like a hoof, or a suit of clothes, so they steal. If another animal's burrow seems more ideal than their own, the mantis shrimp will fight tirelessly until they conquer their new home, according to a recent study in the journal Animal Behavior .

Among the approximately 450 species of mantis shrimp, there are two main ways they fight - with spear claws, and with pincer claws, to crush their prey. The attacks are so fast that the shockwave in the water can stun or even kill their prey. The bubbles generated by the attack can also glow by sonoluminescence - light emission in the implosion of the bubbles.

The secret to such strength and speed lies, after all, in a structure that resembles a spring, or an arrow-throwing bow. Thus, the animal is able to store potential energy in this structure - like when you stretch a rubber band or press a spring; when you let go, they release the energy all at once, correct? So, with the mantis shrimp it's the same thing.

A punch of the animal, which reaches up to 80 km / h, even breaks the glass of an aquarium. The video below, produced by the BBC, demonstrates some of the power of his punch.

Methodical crime

For the research, then, the scientists focused, more specifically, on the species Neogonodactylus bredini The researchers placed a mantis shrimp in an aquarium with a plastic burrow, the ideal size for it to feel at home. Then, they placed a second animal of the same species in the tank to analyze if they would fight.

The researchers point out, however, that if any of the animals suffered any serious injury or were at risk of death, the fight would automatically be stopped.

The researchers found that the burrow residents had the advantage. Invaders won, on average, 31% of the fights. If the burrows were too small or too big for them, they fared even worse, winning only 13% of the fights. In addition, the animal also has an armored tail that it uses to defend the burrow from invaders, which is quite efficient. For example, reverse the percentages.There is now, therefore, a success rate of 69% and 85% respectively.


(Patrick Green)

"We know that animals can evaluate a variety of factors, including the size of the opponent and the value of the prize, when deciding whether to fight and how hard to fight," Dr. Patrick Green of the University of Exter's Center for Ecology and Conservation said in a statement. "In this case, since a smaller burrow is likely occupied by a smaller opponent, it appears that praying mantis shrimp will consider thesize of the house if it means an easier fight."

"One might assume that animals fight harder for the biggest resources, but this study is an example of maximum effort being reserved for something that is 'perfect,'" explains Dr. Green.

The study was published in the journal Animal Behavior. With information from Live Science, Ars Technica and EurekAlert / University of Exter.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.