Press coverage for new Biology Letters paper

Patek Lab graduate student Patrick Green led a new paper published in Biology Letters about fighting in mantis shrimp.   The exciting findings about sparring in these animals were also highlighted in multiple news outlets, including Wired, Science/AAAS, The Atlantic, Live Science and Duke's own press release video.  The above photograph is by Roy Caldwell.

The Biology Letters paper is entitled "Contests with deadly weapons: telson sparring in mantis shrimp (Stomatopoda)" with this abstract: 

Mantis shrimp strike with extreme impact forces that are deadly to prey. They
also strike conspecifics during territorial contests, yet theoretical and empirical
findings in aggressive behaviour research suggest competitors should resolve
conflicts using signals before escalating to dangerous combat. We tested how
Neogonodactylus bredini uses two ritualized behaviours to resolve size-matched
contests: meral spread visual displays and telson (tailplate) strikes. We predicted
that (i) most contests would be resolved by meral spreads, (ii) meral
spreads would reliably signal strike force and (iii) strike force would predict
contest success. The results were unexpected for each prediction. Contests
were not resolved by meral spreads, instead escalating to striking in 33 of 34
experiments. The size of meral spread components did not strongly correlate
with strike force. Strike force did not predict contest success; instead, winners
delivered more strikes. Size-matched N. bredini avoid deadly combat not by
visual displays, but by ritualistically and repeatedly striking each other’s
telsons until the loser retreats. We term this behaviour ‘telson sparring’,
analogous to sparring in other weapon systems. We present an alternative
framework for mantis shrimp contests in which the fight itself is the signal,
serving as a non-lethal indicator of aggressive persistence or endurance.

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