charlene boarts

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Coral reef combat! In an epic battle between mantis shrimp and disco clam, the outcome may surprise you. 

The peacock mantis shrimp is well known as a tiny but deadly predator lurking in coral reef crevices. Its fist-like claws pack a punch like a .22-caliber bullet and are made of material so strong, the military wants to replicate it as body armor. Moving fast enough to generate light, these claws easily crack clam shells–so why would a mantis shrimp retreat from a mere mollusc? 

Superior dance moves aside, the disco clam’s flashy light show warns a hungry shrimp of an impending attack. Poked and provoked, the clam shoots out an acidic mucus, repelling the mantis shrimp and sending it into a temporary stupor. Researchers think the clam may be spewing sulfuric acid–a major component of drain cleaners and car batteries. Yikes!

See these archenemies as they live side by side–but apart–in our Splash Zone exhibit!

Learn more about the mantis shrimp

Learn more about the disco clam

(Thanks to Charlene Boarts for the disco clam video)