The peacock mantis is a colorful shrimp with a powerful punch. These crustaceans have front appendages they use as clubs to cripple their prey or defend themselves from predators. Their punch is so quick that researchers studying it had to use a high-resolution camera shooting 20,000 frames per second.
Biologists have been wrestling with whether this is a learned behavior or if it is innate and designed into the shrimp’s genetic makeup. A new study by Duke University researchers has found the answer. Using peacock mantis shrimp captured in the Philippines and the high-speed camera, they studied the shrimp’s larvae. These larvae are about the size of a grain of rice and have transparent exoskeletons. Unlike the opaque exoskeleton of an adult mantis shrimp, researchers could see the internal working of the larvae.
The scientists found that the shrimp larvae began practicing their punches only nine days after hatching and without adult shrimp contact. They determined that the shrimp’s behavior is innate, not learned. That means the design of the genome of the peacock mantis shrimp contains addresses that produce not only the club-like appendage but also the behavioral instructions on how to use it. In other words, these shrimp with a powerful punch were designed that way.
The more you study the specialized abilities of animals, the more you see that very little of their behavior is learned. Most living things are designed with the equipment they need to survive and the skills that allow them to use that equipment. From the monarch butterfly to the whales to tiny crustaceans, the world is full of incredible life forms equipped for survival and designed with built-in instructions for using that equipment. Everywhere we look, we see evidence of God’s design.
— John N. Clayton © 2021
Reference: NATIONAL WILDLIFE magazine for October/November 2021, (page 8).
We have previously written about the peacock mantis shrimp’s powerful punch HERE.