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Thu, Oct 01

Mantis shrimp housing crisis

Few sea creatures are as straight up ornery as the mantis shrimp, a kind of lobster-looking crustacean that is not in fact a shrimp, but a close relative called a stomatopod. It’s equipped with two astoundingly powerful hammers, which it uses to smash hard-shelled prey like clams and crabs—with a punch so fast that it briefly heats the surrounding water to the temperature of the surface of the sun. The mantis also uses them to fight off predators. “They have a hammer, and everything in the world looks like a nail,” a biologist once told me.

That is, everything up to and including the mantis shrimp’s rivals. This is a strange creature, that much is clear, but things get truly bizarre when it comes to its ritualistic duels over territory. When two stomatopods argue over land rights, they settle things by … smashing each other on the bum. And new research, published today in Royal Society Biology Letters, further unravels the mystery that is the mantis shrimp housing crisis.

Read more from WIRED.