The world’s largest shrimp has been discovered — and it measures an incredible 12-inches long. Found in the Gulf of Mexico, it dwarfs even the size of some lobsters, which usually only measure about 8-inches. Scientists have not yet determined what species this behemoth belongs to, but they believe that based on its features, it could belong to the genus Penaeus according to a report from National Geographic.
What makes this discovery so interesting is how rare these types of shrimp are in comparison to other types like blue or pink shrimp because they live at greater depths than most creatures who inhabit shallower waters — making them harder for humans to reach and study.
Researchers studying these shrimp will be trying to discern if they can distinguish colors if they prefer live food to dead, and how fast they move. They aim to determine the depths that this type of shrimp usually inhabits as well as what their natural predators are to understand the creatures better in order to protect them.
Although this shrimp’s size is astonishing, what makes it even more fascinating to me is how they detect prey and defend themselves. They use special organs called statocysts that allow them to sense minute movements in order to catch their prey and avoid predators — which seems similar to the mechanism most plants use for photosynthesis. These shrimps are also thought to be able to generate their own bioelectrical fields that allow them to sense any predators that are swimming toward them underwater, according to National Geographic.
Another interesting thing about these shrimp is how they communicate with each other. The alpha male has a special set of muscles around his antennas, so he can produce sound waves and communicate with the other shrimp. These sound waves can be detected by other shrimp’s statocysts, which allows them to detect the location of food sources and predators with ease.