The lakes miniature ghost predator kills prey in only 14 milliseconds

 The lakes miniature ghost predator kills prey in only 14 milliseconds

Produce | Netease Scientists Camilla

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According to the American Life Sciences website, there is a terrible micro-organism lurking in lakes all over the world, which can launch terrorist attacks. Recent studies have found that its attack speed is one of the fastest in the animal kingdom.

High-speed videos show the real activity of this nightmare-class aquatic plankton: a multi-articular orifice extending from its head, which can capture prey crawling in the water.


Luckily for humans, these predators are smaller and less than 1 centimeter long. They are Python larvae, also known as Python larvae or hyaline insects. They are so named because they are transparent. When researchers used professional cameras to photograph the larvae of Pygmy mosquitoes, they found that their lethal attack rate was the fastest in the animal kingdom.

Scientists have pointed out in a recent study that at the top of its transparent body, its head, is a complex catch basket with a series of appendages for fast capture of small crustaceans.

Researchers combined high-speed video cameras and CT scans to record the process of capturing water fleas by Pygmy mosquito larvae. Later, scientists built a three-dimensional model of the basketlike structure of the head of the mosquito, identifying its long, sharp spines with hard, thick bristles that trap prey.

When a water flea approaches, the mosquito larvae waiting for prey will launch a surprise attack, and the catch basket of the mosquito larvae will open outward, then shrink rapidly, sucking the flea into their mouth. They alternately move their mouths, and studies have shown that although this chewing action does not seem to tear fleas apart, fleas sometimes burst with friction.

Researchers pointed out that the average attack time of Pygmy mosquito larvae lasted about 14 milliseconds (1 millisecond is one thousandth of a second) from mouth to prey contact, which is one of the fastest attacks in the animal kingdom.

By contrast, Mantis attacks take only 42 milliseconds. According to the study, scientists also recorded the alarming attack speed of mantis shrimp (4-8 milliseconds), trap jaw ants and some trap spiders (less than 1 millisecond).

Despite the alarming speed of attack, the fleas are not unprepared. When the threat arises, the neck teeth of the fleas will emerge from below the head. When they do not fully open the neck teeth, the success rate of attack by the larvae is about 80%. However, scientists report that if fleas expose their sharp neck teeth, the probability of being killed by Python mosquito larvae is only 50%.

Source: Liable Editor of Netease Scientist: Qiao Junyi_NBJ11279