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Department of Biological Sciences

The Speiser lab published a new study in Current Biology

Shock waves are supersonic high-amplitude pressure waves that cause barotrauma when they transfer kinetic energy to the tissues of animals. Snapping shrimp generate shock waves by closing their snapping claws rapidly enough to form cavitation bubbles that release energy as an audible “snap” and a shock wave when they collapse. Although snapping shrimp are exposed to shock waves frequently,  they do not seem affected by them. In their latest study titled "Snapping shrimp have helmets that protect their brains by dampening shock waves", Drs. Alex Kingston, Sarah Woodin, David Wethey and Dan Speiser  investigated wether snapping snapping shrimp could protect themselves against shock waves. They discovered a critical protective role for the shrimp orbital hoods, which are helmet-like extensions of the shrimp exoskeleton. Their results indicate that orbital hoods mitigate blast-induced neurotrauma in snapping shrimp by dampening shock waves, making them the first biological armor system known to have such a function. Fascinating!!! 

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