MAY 24, 2020 5:05 AM PDT

The Pistol Shrimp's Secret Weapon...

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Pistol shrimp have a unique reputation as one of the ocean’s most intriguing crustaceans. Most are only about the size of your index finger, and they sport asymmetric claws, one of which is much larger than the other and contains the primary mechanism that gives this shrimp its distinctive name.

Unlike most shrimp, the pistol shrimp doesn’t have any pincers at the end of its claw. Instead, the asymmetrically large claw is comprised of a hammer and anvil mechanism that, with the help of two powerful muscles, slams shut at break-neck speeds to create an underwater cavitation bubble. Surrounding water then compresses the cavitation bubble, causing it to implode.

You might be interested in reading about Meticore

Anyone that has ever witnessed a pistol shrimp in action has probably heard the ‘popping’ sound that it produces under water. This sound is actually the compression of the cavitation bubble, and not the claw closing itself. As this compression takes place, this small space can temporarily reach temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees Celsius, devastating any prey that the pistol shrimp chooses to chase after. Albeit true that this incredibly focused attack needs to be well-placed to have any impact on its prey, the pistol shrimp is particularly good at landing its strike.

It’s also worth noting that a pistol shrimp’s snapping produces quite a bit of noise. The clicking of some pistol shrimp colonies have been measured at nearly 210 decibels, which compares to the loud grinding of a chainsaw at just 120 decibels. In fact, Naval vessels once used pistol shrimp colonies’ snapping to help conceal massive submarine positions from enemy hydrophones.

Indeed, while the pistol shrimp may not look like much at first glance, it’s safe to say that they’ve got a pretty cool trick up their sleeve.

Related: New shrimp species named after the band Pink Floyd

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 04, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
The magic vibrational powers of frog lungs
MAR 04, 2021
The magic vibrational powers of frog lungs
Ever tried picking someone up at a loud, crowded bar? It’s not easy – not only may they not hear your fabulo ...
MAR 25, 2021
Microbiology
Good Microbes Can Help Plants Withstand Heat
MAR 25, 2021
Good Microbes Can Help Plants Withstand Heat
Bacteria live everywhere, and we're starting to understand how they affect the biology of animals and plants. This comes ...
MAR 30, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Pest Hijacked a Plant Gene To Use as a Toxin Shield
MAR 30, 2021
A Pest Hijacked a Plant Gene To Use as a Toxin Shield
Bacteria can share genetic material in a process called horizontal gene transfer, and recent work has shown that in anim ...
APR 20, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
The History of Lettuce Domestication Told Through DNA
APR 20, 2021
The History of Lettuce Domestication Told Through DNA
The more we know about the genetic history of food crops, the more prepared we'll be to maintain their growth through en ...
MAY 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sharks Can Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate
MAY 10, 2021
Sharks Can Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate
How do sharks make transatlantic journeys without losing their way? New research published this week in Current Biology ...
MAY 07, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Did Scientists Just Find Mushrooms on Mars?
MAY 07, 2021
Did Scientists Just Find Mushrooms on Mars?
While experts agree that most life on Earth would not be able to survive on Mars, NASA researchers have previously sugge ...
Loading Comments...