News of the WeekBiophysics

For Certain Shrimp, Life's a Snap

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Science  22 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5487, pp. 2020-2021
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5487.2020

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On page 2114 of this issue, physicists report that a collapsing bubble outside the claw of the snapping shrimp Alpheus heterochaelis causes its characteristic clack. According to this new study, A. heterochaelis clamps its claw so rapidly that a water jet gushing from the claw first loses and then gains pressure, causing an air bubble in the jet to swell and collapse with a pronounced "snap!" The imploding bubble generates shock waves that stun nearby prey and ward off other shrimp, who have learned to keep their distance.