Phenomena

The Mantis Shrimp’s Left Hook

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The mantis shrimp is a tiny, clown-colored juggernaut of underwater physics. Some species have modified claws that serve as clubs for punching their prey, and the mantis shrimp swings that club fast – its acceleration is comparable to a bullet’s! Moving that quickly in water causes a drastic drop in local pressure, low enough to form a cavitation bubble. Such low-pressure bubbles themselves are not particularly dangerous, but their collapse is incredibly violent, especially near a solid surface, like the shell of the shrimp’s prey. Collapsing cavitation bubbles can send out shock waves, shatter glass, and even generate light. In the case of the mantis shrimp, it’s more than enough to stun, if not outright kill, its prey. (Video credit: Physics Girl)

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