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Evolution of mantis shrimp telson armour and its role in ritualized fighting

TitleEvolution of mantis shrimp telson armour and its role in ritualized fighting
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsTaylor J.RA, Scott N.I, Rouse GW
Date PublishedAug
ISBN Number1742-5689
Accession NumberWOS:000484404700013
Keywordsagonistic behavior; balls; biological armour; coefficient; coefficient of restitution; Crustacea; impact; impact mechanics; Injury; mechanics; restitution; ritualized combat; stomatopod

Mantis shrimp possess both formidable weapons and impact-resistant armour that clash during ritualized combat. The telson is one of few biological structures known to withstand the repeated high impact forces of smashing mantis shrimp strikes, and it is hypothesized that this pairing of armour and weapon is associated with the evolution of telson sparring. We carried out a comparative analysis of telson impact mechanics across 15 mantis shrimp species to assess if the telsons of sparring species (i) are consistently specialized for impact-resistance, (ii) are more impact-resistant than those of non-sparring species, and (iii) have impact parameters that correlate with body size, and thereby useful for assessment. Our data from ball drop tests show that the telsons of all species function like a stiff spring that dissipates most of the impact energy, but none of the measured impact parameters are correlated with the occurrence of sparring behaviour. Impact parameters were correlated with body mass for only some species, suggesting that it is not broadly useful for size assessment during ritualized fighting. Contrary to expectation, sparring mantis shrimp do not appear to have coevolved telson armour that is more robust to impact than non-sparring species. Rather, telson structure is inherently impact-resistant.

Alternate JournalJ R Soc Interface
Student Publication: