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Deadly strike mechanism of a mantis shrimp

Nature volume 428, pages 819820 (22 April 2004) | Download Citation



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.

This shrimp packs a punch powerful enough to smash its prey's shell underwater.

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Author information


  1. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3140, USA

    • S. N. Patek
    • , W. L. Korff
    •  & R. L. Caldwell


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. N. Patek.

Supplementary information

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  1. 1.

    Supplementary Methods

    These supplementary methods describe the calculations used to approximate the energy storage and release required by the mantis shrimp’s strike and to demonstrate the need for a specialized spring in the mantis shrimp’s raptorial appendage.

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