Zack, T. I., T. Claverie, and S.N. Patek. 2009. Elastic energy storage in the mantis shrimp’s fast predatory strike. Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 4002-4009.
Journal of Experimental Biology.
Storage of elastic energy is key to increasing the power output of many biological systems. Mantis shrimp (Stomatopoda) must store considerable elastic energy prior to their rapid raptorial strikes; however, little is known about the dynamics and location of elastic energy storage < structures in this system. We used Computed Tomography (CT) to visualize the mineralization patterns in Gonodactylaceus falcatus and high speed videography of Odontodactylus scyllarus to observe the dynamics of spring loading. Using a materials testing apparatus, we measured the force and work required to contract the elastic structures in G. falcatus. Contraction force exhibited a positive linear correlation with contraction distance; alternative model tests further supported the use of a linear model. Therefore, we modeled the system as a Hookean spring. The force required to fully compress the spring was positively correlated with body mass and appendage size, but the spring constant did not scale with body size suggesting a possible role of muscle constraints in the scaling of this system. One hypothesized elastic storage structure, the saddle, only contributed approximately 11% of the total measured force, thus suggesting that primary site of elastic energy storage is in the mineralized ventral bars found in the merus segment of the raptorial appendages. Furthermore, the intact system exhibited 81% resilience and severing the saddle resulted in a non-significant reduction to 77% resilience. The remarkable shapes and mineralization patterns that characterize the mantis shrimp's raptorial appendage further reveal a highly integrated mechanical power amplification system based on exoskeletal elastic energy storage.