WATCH: These Incredible Snapping Shrimp Seemingly Use Superpowers to Stun Their Enemies

by Craig Garrett
Orange snapping shrimp in coconut shell, Lembeh Strait, Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. - stock photo

A viral video featuring snapping shrimp going into defensive mode and using an ability rarely seen is making waves on social media. The clip is from the Disney+ wildlife series, Super/Natural. It shows a colony of tiny shrimp housed inside a sea sponge. The 300-strong colony is hard at work for their queen when a polychaete worm creeps in.

Even though the snapping shrimp are only the size of a grain of rice, they have a powerful defense. The workers sound an alarm with a series of clicks. Soldiers of the colony arrive instantly. Incredibly, the fighters snap their claws rapidly, which causes the water to evaporate. This creates an impressive bubble, which causes pressure. Eventually, the bubble bursts, sending the polychaete worm scrambling out.

The efforts of the snapping shrimp play out like a real-life science fiction movie. The fact that Benedict Cumberbatch narrates only adds to the superhero feeling of it all. The amazing footage was shared on Twitter. All six episodes of Super/Natural are currently streaming on Disney+.

The amazing footage of the snapping shrimp was captured by a production shepherded by James Cameron. The Titanic director is no stranger to filming wildlife. Super/Natural conducted a whopping 80 international shoots for their latest project, across 29 different countries. These included more varied locations than one could imagine, such as the pine forests of British Columbia to the jungle terrain of Costa Rica. Even location-specific searches couldn’t stump this production team, who skillfully scaled Khao Yai forest in Thailand and traversed through Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

More about the snapping shrimp’s incredible ability

The few dozen species of snapping shrimp can pack a punch, according to the website Science. Their lightning-fast claws close so quickly that they make sounds louder than a gunshot and create shock waves in the water that stun fish, worms, and other prey.

But the evolutionary steps from simple pinching to hyperfast snapping were a mystery to researchers. A team of biologists has thoroughly examined the claw anatomies of 114 species of shrimp, including about a dozen known snapping types, in order to solve this riddle. They discovered two entirely new kinds of claw joints that had never before been documented in scientific literature.

The first is a basic slip joint. It’s similar to many pocket knives. A tiny ridge aids in keeping the claw open until enough force causes it to snap shut. This allows the claw to close somewhat faster than usual. The second was an even more modified version known as a cocking slip joint, where the ridge fully cocks the claw open. That allows snapping shrimp to build up significant pressure in the claw’s muscles before releasing it with a secondary muscle movement, slamming it shut at incredible speeds and producing a shock wave.