Thursday, March 3, 2011

The End of the Secret-Mantis-Shrimp Conspiracy

That’s right—not only do I have much better pictures of the SMS now, but the Secret Mantis Shrimp is a secret no longer. Annie and I went to the invertebrate house this weekend with the firm intention of revealing the SMS to all and sundry—visitors, volunteers, keepers, you name it. (Perhaps my intention was rather more firm than hers—but nonetheless.)

And we did it: we stared into the tank, exclaiming loudly and with tremendous over-acting, “Look! There’s another mantis shrimp in here!!!”

That got at least a few people to notice it (although people tend to have surprising difficulty finding and noticing invertebrates; maybe they think “invertebrate house” refers to the spinelessness of the structure rather than what’s contained within it?). Then we actually pointed it out to a friendly volunteer, who was very surprised but at least didn’t pretend—as others had—that it didn’t exist.

He said he’d been sick the past week when there was a meeting of volunteers, and speculated that he might, therefore, have missed having been told about the “new” addition to the invertebrate house. Now, I think the important point we can gain from this is: our only source did not attend the volunteer meeting; this means there’s no evidence to disprove my hypothesis that there was no mention of the SMS at the meeting—or, if it was mentioned, volunteers were told to keep it secret. I think we can consider the conspiracy confirmed.

—In any case, the conspiracy is no longer, since this volunteer was more than happy to point out the extra mantis shrimp to visitors. I haven’t been back to the invertebrate house since, but I suspect I’ll find that the zoo has had to give up on whatever nefarious plans it had regarding the SMS; I wouldn’t be surprised to find the tank appropriately labeled as well. As for what those nefarious plans could have been—well, I can’t say for sure, but given the mantis shrimps’ powerful punches, I can only speculate that the plans involved demolition or weaponry or both.

And thus Annie and I foiled their schemes and, at the same time, provided zoo visitors with the chance to see two--count 'em, two--of these bizarre crustaceans.

All in a day’s work.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

There's a novel in this, or at least a flash fiction:).

biobabbler said...

Wow, that really is a spectacular creature. And this post was like reading a mystery novel; I agree with Anca. The Case of the Missing Mantis. =)

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