Biomechanics: deadly strike mechanism of a mantis shrimp

Nature. 2004 Apr 22;428(6985):819-20. doi: 10.1038/428819a.


Stomatopods (mantis shrimp) are well known for the feeding appendages they use to smash shells and impale fish. Here we show that the peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) generates an extremely fast strike that requires major energy storage and release, which we explain in terms of a saddle-shaped exoskeletal spring mechanism. High-speed images reveal the formation and collapse of vapour bubbles next to the prey due to swift movement of the appendage towards it, indicating that O. scyllarus may use destructive cavitation forces to damage its prey.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Decapoda / anatomy & histology*
  • Decapoda / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology*