Posted tagged ‘science’

The Good, the Bad and the…Prawn? – The Pistol Shrimp

March 2, 2010

For Infinite Variety’s first post I thought I would start off with something very special. The pistol shrimp (snapping shrimp or alpheidae) is a subfamily of caridea (which includes other shrimp and prawns) that is characterized by having one enlarged claw capable of emitting a loud snapping sound. It is a diverse family covering over 600 species and can be found in almost every corner of the ocean, inhabiting self-dug burrows in coral reefs and submerged seagrass flats. Here in these burrows, some members of this unusual branch of shrimp frequently bunk with goby fish, forming an unlikely symbiotic relationship; while the pistol shrimp constructs and maintains the den, the goby fish –with its far superior eyesight– alerts his roommate of any approaching danger with distinguishing flicks of the tail when they then both hide away in the safety of their corralled fortress. However, it isn’t the relationship of this odd couple that we’re interested in but the peculiar weapon that the pistol shrimp wields. (more…)