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How mantis shrimps spar

Number of punches determines which one wins

3:24pm, June 17, 2015
mantis shrimps sparring

MANTIS SHRIMP SMACKDOWN  Ritualized combat between mantis shrimps quickly turns to non-deadly blows; opponents use the last segment of their bodies to shield themselves and dissipate the force of the punches (coiled mantis shrimp at right).

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Mantis shrimps famed for their murderously fast punches don’t dance around much before they start swinging at each other.

In about a third of 34 disputes over territory staged in a lab, a Neogonodactylus bredini mantis shrimp’s first move was slamming a raptorial club into a rival, says Patrick Green of Duke University. And all but one of the rest of the clashes eventually came to blows, Green reported June 11 at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society.

A mantis shrimp can accelerate its club with the same order of magnitude as bullets exploding out of the muzzle of a gun. Based on face-offs among other well-armed animals such as deer, Green and coauthor Sheila Patek, also at Duke, had predicted that mantis shrimps would start combat with harmless displays that give opponents a

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