If we let our imaginations expand a little – alright, maybe a lot – it would be fun to hear what a superhero’s favorite animal would be. For Ironman, perhaps his favorite would be the peregrine falcon for its aerial speed. For Captain America, maybe he would favor the loyalty of a golden retriever or the bald eagle for its connection to the U.S. For Batman, his would be, well, a bat. The Hulk is a little trickier. The Hulk is known for his devastating, supernatural strength and destructive power. So, what animal would the Hulk choose? I’m going with the mantis shrimp. Think I’m a little crazy? Just check out the abilities of this incredible animal.
In 1975, Roy Caldwell, a magazine editor, found his way to a marine biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. The biologist was studying the mantis shrimp. Not thinking much about it, Caldwell went over to the tank and tapped on the glass to provoke the shrimp. The mantis shrimp tapped back, except its “tap” shattered the glass, spilling water all over the floor (Student Science). It gets much more amazing than this.
Punching Speed. The mantis shrimp punches faster than the human eye can see. More specifically, it punches 50 times faster than the blink of an eye. The punch’s acceleration is comparable to the acceleration of a .22 caliber bullet. Researchers had to use cameras filming at up to 100,000 frames per second just to capture it (ibid). At the time of discovery, this was the fastest strike of any animal. Today we have found faster strikes but they all move through the air. The mantis shrimp punches in water, which obviously has much more resistance than air. However, no strike is faster in the water.
Punching Power. If the mantis shrimp connects with a punch, it is enough to kill and crack open the hard shells of crabs, snails, oysters, or any other unfortunate bystander. Most amazing of all, the mantis shrimp doesn’t even have to connect in order to kill its prey. Its punch produces so much energy that it causes the water around it to boil and vaporize, creating an air pocket which then collapses. This processes, called cavitation, is how torpedoes destroy submarines. The torpedo doesn’t have to hit, it just has to get close and the shockwave does the rest. The same is true with the mantis shrimp. It can miss and the shockwave produced by the cavitation can still kill (phys.org). If the shrimp connects, the prey is hit by both the strike and the shockwave (Watch this video to see the shockwave in action).
Punching Mechanics. The shrimp is perfectly designed for punching. It doesn’t rely on muscles to punch, but a type of spring and lock mechanism. As it pulls its club up next to its body, it compresses a saddle-shaped spring that releases with incredible force. Interestingly, the club of the mantis shrimp is perfectly made to deliver unlimited devastating blows without ever breaking its club (Watch this video for further explanation).
Animals like these cause my jaw to hit the floor. The mantis shrimp’s punch would even impress the Hulk. Trying to wrap my mind about how something like this could happen by time and chance simply doesn’t make sense. It certainly doesn’t have provable fossil or observable evidence to explain how it made it to this level. What is observable, however, is a mantis shrimp that has every part fully designed and functioning.
While every inch of the mantis shrimp is impressive, every inch is also created and designed. Like so many animals, the mantis shrimp points to the Almighty Creator. Revelation 4:11 says it well, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Let’s echo these great words in our lives.
P.S. The mantis shrimp is also home to the most advanced eyes in the entire animal kingdom. Watch for another article next week on the mantis shrimp.