Posted in Science & Nature

Badass Weapons Of Nature: Pistol Shrimp

A gun is, without a doubt, a manmade object. It is an invention that has existed less than a thousand years in history. However, there is an animal that has been using firearms to hunt prey for a significantly longer period of time than mankind has.
The pistol shrimp is well known for its disproportionately large claw, with the other claw being much smaller like a normal shrimp. The massive claw is what is called the “pistol” and it is the weapon of choice for the shrimp.

When a pistol shrimp identifies a target, it swiftly takes aim with the claw and snaps it shut with enough force to create a bubble jet reaching a speed of almost 100km/h. Not only are bubbles produced, but the pressure wave created by the cavitation (the effect of a bubble imploding and generating energy) reaches a sound level of 218dB – which is about 100,000,000 times larger than a gunshot, or 10,000 times larger than a rocket launch. Furthermore, the energy is also released as light and heat, generating a temperature as hot as 4700°C (for comparison, the surface temperature of the sun is 5500°C).
The combination of the bubble jet, pressure wave and heat energy instantly stuns the target and the pistol shrimp proceeds to devour its prey.

Yes, the pistol shrimp has mastered a skill that humans can only dream of in comics such as the Incredible Hulk’s Thunderclap, or in games such as Guile’s Sonic Boom (from Street Fighter). It has also mastered the skill to the level of an effective ultimate move that is reliable as a hunting tool. In fact, it is quite possibly the closest any animal on Earth has gotten to an actual beam weapon.