Previous: Crocodile Tears Are Real (And Could Help Cure Dry Eyes)
Next: 5 Robots You Can Hug



View count:95,604
Last sync:2022-10-28 18:00
This episode is sponsored by Terra Mater, a Youtube channel for anyone interested in nature and exploring more of our planet. Head to their channel to watch some jaw-dropping wildlife footage!

Many species of mantis shrimp rely on their incredible punching abilities to stun their prey. But it turns out they don’t have to be mature mantis shrimp to start getting their punch on. And baby Philippine mantis shrimp can punch nearly as quickly as the adults!

Hosted by: Michael Aranda

SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at
Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon:
Huge thanks go to the following Patreon supporters for helping us keep SciShow free for everyone forever:

Chris Peters, Matt Curls, Kevin Bealer, Jeffrey Mckishen, Jacob, Christopher R Boucher, Nazara, charles george, Christoph Schwanke, Ash, Silas Emrys, KatieMarie Magnone, Eric Jensen, Adam Brainard, Piya Shedden, Alex Hackman, James Knight, GrowingViolet, Drew Hart, Sam Lutfi, Alisa Sherbow, Jason A Saslow

Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?

This episode was made with  support from Terra Mater, a Youtube channel for anyone interested in  nature and exploring more of our planet.

Head to their channel to watch  some jaw-dropping wildlife footage! [♪ INTRO]. Many species of mantis shrimp rely on their incredible punching abilities to stun their prey.

Some species even pack such a  punch that they can literally break aquarium glass, delivering the  same force as a .22 caliber bullet. So these shrimps can deliver one of the  fastest punches in the animal kingdom! But they don’t have to be  mature mantis shrimp to punch.

New research shows that baby  Philippine mantis shrimp pack almost the same amount of speed  behind their punch as the adults. And the secret behind this powerful  punch comes from their speed. Which relies on a saddle-shaped joint  that can be seen through the transparent exoskeleton of the baby shrimp, located  just above their club-shaped limb.

Think of this shape as acting  similarly to a bow and arrow. The shrimp uses its muscles to pull on the saddle, bending it much like a bow does  when the archer pulls on the string. The bending of the saddle  generates elastic energy, a build-up of power that forms  as the joint locks in place.

Similar to a bow and arrow when the  string is pulled as far as it can go. And when the shrimp decides to punch something, the exoskeleton springs back to normal, and the front club is propelled  forward at incredibly fast speeds. Much like an archer releasing  the bowstring to shoot an arrow, that energy gets transferred  to the shrimp’s front club.

Now, these little shrimps don’t  look anything like adults; they’re just a few millimeters  long compared to the adults, which can be up to six centimeters long! And researchers wanted to know exactly  when mantis shrimp developed this mechanism, and they discovered it  can happen as early as 9 days old! Basically, as soon as the  baby runs out of egg yolk and moves on in search of real  food, it’s armed and ready to throw a punch at anything the  big wide ocean can throw at it.

As long as it’s punching  something smaller than its size. And this baby shrimp is a really  great model for researchers to study this mechanism in action  because they’re transparent. So, instead of making assumptions  about how the mechanism works by dissecting adults, researchers can  observe it happening in real-time.

Now, physics models suggest  that these babies should be faster punchers than the adults,  with the theory being that as a spring mechanism gets  bigger, it becomes less efficient. However, the researchers found that these  babies are a bit slower than adults. They’re still working out exactly  why, but the leading theory is that those tiny creatures experience water  completely differently than larger creatures; small ones can feel the water more  like being submerged in molasses.

So a baby’s punch may be slowed down by additional forces working  against its teeny tiny club. Which is maybe okay because, while baby mantis shrimp are  itty bitty, so are their prey. Their punches don’t need  to be as fast as an adult, just so long as they’re faster than  what they’re attempting to punch!

Even if they’re a bit slower than their parents, these wee little shrimps can  still deliver a super swift blow. And thanks to their transparency, researchers  have been able to witness firsthand both the biology and physics behind  the mantis shrimp’s powerful punch. If you like this video of these cute tiny  shrimp, check out more from Terra Mater!

The YouTube channel with  incredible stories about our Earth accompanied by breathtaking wildlife footage. If you liked the shrimp one, you  should check out “deep-sea creatures” highlighting the fascinating  creatures near the bottom of the sea! [♪ OUTRO].