The Pistol Shrimp

Imagine that you worked out, but only one of your arms. Imagine you pumped so much iron and drank down so many protein shakes that your one muscular arm grew almost as large as your whole body, and you could clap so loud that the people around you literally died.

You’ve just successfully imagined being the Pistol Shrimp.

Because when I say “shrimp” you say “giant sonic terror claw”.

The pistol shrimp’s arm has a goddamn cannon built into it. To go hunting, the shrimp picks a concealed spot, like a burrow, a bit of coral or a little underwater grassy knoll, and waits, antennae sensing the water for prey.

When something edible swims too close, the shrimp pulls the hammer on its claw back, “loading” it.

“Safety’s off, Sarge.”

That claw then snaps shut, creating a blast of sound. The water ahead of the shrimp briefly spikes to 5000°C, or the temperature of the fucking sun. There’s even a flash of light, caused by the sheer force of the collapsing vacuum in the water.

The prey is hammered by the shockwave, and stunned or killed. After that, the shrimp can drag them into its sniper nest and munch at its leisure.

Pictured: a regular shrimp meeting a pistol shrimp.

What’s more, they can’t be disarmed. If a pistol shrimp loses its cannon-arm, presumably to the oceanic equivalent of Jason Bourne, it will regenerate as a normal claw – while its other arm grows to monstrous size and becomes a cannon arm.

Try to take the gun away, and it just switches hands.

Pistol Shrimp are found all over the world, with members blasting their way across tropical waters, up into temperate coasts and in freshwater caves. However, these lunatic sniper shrimp are drifting further North than ever before – a pair were found by an English fisherman off the coast of the UK this year, and they are increasingly being fished up outside their usual ranges, hopefully by fishermen in bomb-proof blast suits.

The only explanation is that they are being pushed North by climate change, and while the shrimps themselves are fine with this, the fish and crustacean species already in their new shooting gallery aren’t – any invasive predator is bad news, and one with such an unstoppable hunting strategy is even worse.

What’s more, some of them are even eusocial, like bees, wasps and ants. The Synalpheus genus, which lives in sea sponges, forms colonies of a single “Queen” female, hundreds of workers, and hundreds of soldiers, all armed with the pistol shrimp’s shockwave cannon.

You know what happens next.

Little underwater trenches and little underwater artillery emplacements.

BLAM.
BLAM.

Be right back, I just had a great idea for a SyFy Original script.

Dan

Alligator Snapping Turtles

Ok, so you’re a fish. Nothing mental or big, just, like, a minnow or something. You’re chilling in your river, looking for food, when you spot a tasty little worm in the mud.

“This looks both harmless and delicious.” – Fish

Then, just when you’re close enough to grab it, BAM. You’ve been cut in half. No warning, no chance to escape, just one second tasty worm, the next second dual guillotine fatality. You got Alligator Snapping Turtled.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, and looks very much like the offspring of a tyrannosaurus, an armoured personnel carrier, and one of those unsettling staple removers with the jaws.

You know the ones I mean.

It can be found in fresh water all over the south-eastern United States, sitting on the bottom of rivers, lakes, ponds and swamps with its mouth open, daring things to try to catch that worm.

The worm lure is an appendage on its tongue – as even the inside of its mouth is heavily camouflaged, it can lie in wait with its mouth open without risking detection. The “worm” is an example of aggressive mimicry, where predators imitate something harmless or appealing to prey, to put their prey at ease or draw them closer. The angler fish’s glowing lure is the most famous example of this, but that thing where your boss pretends to be a customer is an equally scary and devious human example.

Alligator Snappers have been recorded at up to 113kg (249lb, or “two-thirds-again as heavy as me”) and can bite through broom handles. In the wild, they eat anything they can get their scaly mitts on, predominantly fish (living and scavenged), other turtles, water birds, amphibians, snakes, molluscs… The list goes on. Larger snappers even drag down aquatic rodents, swimming mammals such as armadillos, and small alligators.

Here’s a picture of an adorable newborn, which one day hopes to tear the bottoms out of canoes and eat the explorers within.

They are estimate to be able to live from 120 to 200 years, but no-one really knows how long they can keep going in the wild. So, if all else fails, if you won’t take the worm bait, if you won’t swim near by, if their extendible neck and lightning-fast scissor jaws are too slow for you… That’s ok. The Alligator Snapping Turtle will just wait. It’s got time.

“See you soon.”

Dan

(images taken from – image 1 – maxresdefault, youtube.com: image 2 – austinsturtlepage.com: image 3 – http://www.theonlinecentral.com: image 4 – http://www.drunkonblue.com)