Zeitschrift für vergleichende Physiologie

, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 361–381 | Cite as

The mechanics and neural control of the prey capture strike in the mantid shrimps Squilla and Hemisquilla

  • M. Burrows


  1. 1.

    The prey capture strike of Squilla and Hemisquilla has been studied by high speed motion picture photography and by electromyography from the limb muscles of the unrestrained animal.

  2. 2.

    The strike consists of a rapid unfolding of the dactyl, propus and carpus about the merus of the raptorial, 2nd thoracic limb. The prey may be struck by the folded propus-dactyl joint, pierced by the extended dactyl or grasped between the open propus and dactyl.

  3. 3.

    Contact is made with the prey in 4–8 ms, when the animal is underwater, at which time the propus is moving about the merus at an angular velocity of 20,000°·s−1 or at a linear velocity of 10 m·s−1.

  4. 4.

    Acceleration is applied to the limb in less than 1.5 ms and an energy requirement of 1.25×105 ergs is necessary for the strike. This could not be produced by a single muscle twitch.

  5. 5.

    Electrophysiology and experiments in which the strike has been simulated have shown that the strike is produced by the co-contraction of flexor and extensor muscles in the merus operating a ‘click’ joint. The flexor muscles begin to contract first, often 1 s before the strike so pulling a sclerite over a stop on the ventral wall of the merus. This gives them a 900∶1 mechanical advantage over the extensor muscles and allows the extensor muscles to contract almost isometrically and time to reach tetanic tension. The flexor muscles relax just prior to the strike so that the sclerite then snaps over its stop on the merus allowing the stored energy of the extensor muscles to be delivered suddenly.



Photography Limb Muscle Extensor Muscle Open Propus Speed Motion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atwood, H. L., and G. Hoyle: A further study of the paradox phenomenon of crustacean muscle. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 181, 225–234 (1965).Google Scholar
  2. Bennet-Clark, H. C., and E. C. A. Lucey: The jump of the flea: A study of the energetics and a model of the mechanism. J. exp. Biol. 47, 59–76 (1967).Google Scholar
  3. Brown, R. H. J.: Mechanism of locust jumping. Nature (Lond.) 214, 939 (1967).Google Scholar
  4. Hill, A. V.: The heat of activation and the heat of shortening in a muscle twitch. Proc. roy. Soc. B 136, 195–211 (1949).Google Scholar
  5. Hoyle, G.: Neuromuscular mechanisms of a locust skeletal muscle. Proc. roy. Soc. B 143, 343–367 (1955).Google Scholar
  6. MacGinitie, G. E., and N. MacGinitie: Natural history of marine animals. New York: McGraw-Hill 1968.Google Scholar
  7. Machin, K. E., and J. W. S. Pringle: The physiology of insect fibrillar muscle II. Mechanical properties of a beetle flight muscle. Proc. roy. Soc. B 151, 204–225 (1959).Google Scholar
  8. Maldonado, H., L. Levin, and J. C. Barros Pita: Hit distance and the predatory strike of the Praying Mantis. Z. vergl. Physiol. 56, 237–257 (1967).Google Scholar
  9. Mittelstaedt, H.: Prey capture in mantids. In: Recent Advances in Invertebrate Physiology (B. T. Scheer, ed.). University of Oregon Press 1957.Google Scholar
  10. Rilling, S., H. Mittelstaedt, and K. D. Roeder: Prey recognition in the Praying Mantis. Behaviour 14, 164–184 (1959).Google Scholar
  11. Sandeman, D. C.: A sensitive position measuring device for biological systems. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 24, 635–638 (1968).Google Scholar
  12. Schaller, F.: Verhalten und sinnesphysiologische Beobachtungen an Squilla mantis. Z. Tierpsychol. 10, 1–12 (1953).Google Scholar
  13. Usherwood, P. N. R.: The nature of ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ contractions in the coxal muscles of the cockroach. J. Ins. Physiol. 8, 31–52 (1962).Google Scholar
  14. Vos, J. A., and R. A. Binkhorst: Velocity and force of some karate arm movements. Nature (Lond.) 211, 89–90 (1966).Google Scholar
  15. Weis-Fogh, T.: Tetanic force and shortening in locust flight muscle. J. exp. Biol. 33, 668–684 (1956).Google Scholar
  16. Wiersma, C. A. G., and S. H. Ripley: Innervation patterns of crustacean limbs. Physiol. comp. 2, 391–405 (1952).Google Scholar
  17. Wilson, D. M.: Proprioceptive leg reflexes in cockroaches. J. exp. Biol. 43, 397–409 (1965).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Burrows
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OregonEugene

Personalised recommendations