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This Shrimp Is No Shrimp — It Kills With Bubble Bullets

The sound of a pistol shrimp's shot can break Champagne flutes.


Meet the pistol shrimp. This Who-You-Callin'-Little crustacean can fire faster, harder and louder than a Western gunslinger.

It would be easy to underestimate this little animal's armory because — sad trombone, no drumroll — its weapon of choice is an oversized claw.

The pistol shrimp, aka snapping shrimp of the Alpheidae family, is no bigger than your trigger finger.

pistol shrimp"But what an oversized claw it is." (Giphy)


But — surprise! — the pistol shrimp's claw is one of the most awesome weapons in the animal kingdom.

pistol shrimpHULK SMASH. (Giphy)


The well-named pistol shrimp can fire cavitation bubbles like bullets that can knock other animals out flat, sometimes even killing them, according to NatGeo.

pistol shrimpThis scares the Porgs.

Giphy

According to Wired, "Pound for pound, the pistol shrimp is one of the most powerful, most raucous creature on Earth." ON EARTH! In the shallow water oceans around the world, they are the Obnoxiously Loud Neighbors.

The sound of a pistol shrimp's shot is a whopping 210 decibels, louder than an actual gunshot, which averages around 150. The sound can break Champagne flutes like an opera singer's voice. And it can interfere with sonar and underwater communication.

Pistol shrimp are a source of major nuisance noise in the ocean. They "are the curse of all marine life sound recordists... and can be easily heard as a popcorn or crackling sound anywhere in the coastal ocean where you might submerge your head," notes Ocean Conservation Research.

Listen to an audiograph of snapping shrimp wherein — yaaas, Science — "the snapping shrimp was tickled with a paintbrush."

That's a lot of bang, shrimpy! The pistol shrimp, like the mantis shrimp, can also produce sonoluminescence, which is the awesome physics of when sound creates light.


Pistol shrimp aren't trying to be awesome. They're just using their super-powered claw as a sonic weapon to stun prey like fish that are far larger than themselves, as one does.

They don't mean to be starring as gunslingers in an undersea, B-grade spaghetti Western.

pistol shrimp

Giphy

But wouldn't they be amazing opposite Michelle Dockery in "Godless?"

pistol shrimp

Giphy

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