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9 Amazing Facts About Shrimps

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9 March, 2023

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Shrimp is just one of the many popular choices of seafood used in cooking. However, not many people know that there are 2,000 different species of shrimp in the world. That’s right. 

Amazingly, shrimp is one of the aquatic world’s most successful crustaceans in terms of evolution and adaptation. Here are a few more amazing facts about shrimp.

Shrimps have more eye cone receptors than humans 

Photo by stokpic

Compared to humans, which have three types of cone receptors in our eyes (red, green, and blue), shrimps have been shown to possess 12 types of cone receptors. However, despite this difference, studies have shown that their brains cannot process different shades of the same color, so they can only, in fact, see 12 colors at most. 

In contrast, human eyes may only have three cone types, but our eyes and brains can process different shades, so we still see more colors than shrimps do.

Prawns are not overgrown shrimps

Photo by Terje Sollie

It may be difficult to tell a prawn apart from a shrimp if you disregard the size. This is why people often mistake prawns for being nothing more than bigger shrimps. However, this isn’t true. Shrimps only have two pincers, while prawns have 6. 

Furthermore, overlaps in exoskeletons vary between the two, allowing the shrimp to bend more than the prawns. Also, around 75 to 80% of prawns live in freshwater, while 75 to 80% of shrimp live in saltwater. 

Shrimps have hearts in their heads

Photo by smuldur

Because their head and thorax are joined and encased by the same exoskeleton segment, the shrimp’s thorax is often considered its head. 

And since the shrimp’s heart is sitting right behind the head and within the cephalothorax region, the heart can also be considered inside their heads. 

Shrimps are good swimmers, even without fins

Photo by James Tiono

Unlike most (if not all) aquatic organisms, shrimps don’t have fins. They also have very thin legs. In place of a fin, they have a tail that can be utilized like one. 

However, because of their body structure and the limited directional movement of their tail, they can only swim fast backward. Shrimps can still swim forward, but this is considerably slower. 

Shrimps are omnivores

Shrimps are not exclusive feeders; they are omnivores. They will eat whatever fits in their mouths, even tiny food particles left in the teeth of other fish. Some shrimps form mutualistic relationships with other aquatic organisms this way – offering cleaning services while getting paid with food scraps. 

These shrimps would often dance and entice fish to come closer. Then, once the fish settles down, they clean scraps and parasites (sticking to gills, scales, and mouth) off of the fish. 

Shrimps can reproduce very quickly 

Photo by Anthony Camp

Some species of shrimps can lay close to a million eggs at once. These eggs often take just two weeks to hatch. Some shrimps would carry a new batch of fertilized eggs even just hours after hatching their eggs. 

However, you must keep in mind that shrimps have abundant predators in the wild. More significant aquatic organisms would often wipe out shrimps by the millions, keeping their population in control.

Shrimps undergo sex changes during their development

Photo by Elle Hughes

One of the strangest and most amazing facts about shrimps is that they are born capable of turning into any gender. As juveniles, it is difficult to identify because while they seem to be hermaphroditic (containing both male and female systems), none of these systems are functional until the shrimp reaches maturity. 

When they turn into an adult, they become males first. After a while (and for the rest of their lives), they become females. 

Shrimp is an excellent source of nourishment. 

Photo by Gunnar Ridderström

According to nutritionists, shrimp is an excellent, nutrient-rich food source. They estimate that every time you eat a hundred-gram-serving of shrimp, you get the following:

  • 144 calories
  • half of the recommended daily value of protein
  • 9% of the recommended daily value of magnesium
  • 295 g of potassium
  • 540 mg of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Researchers also believe that shrimp contain considerably lower levels of Mercury than other kinds of seafood. This makes them significantly healthier alternatives to more extensive and expensive fish like tuna or salmon. 

Want to incorporate more shrimp into your diet? Here’s a master list of easy shrimp recipes by Delish. 

Shrimps play an important role in the ecosystem

Photo by Hanbyul Jeong

Despite their minuscule size, shrimps play various vital roles in the ecosystem”

  • First, they serve as food for many organisms in the ocean and those living above it – fish, starfish, seabirds, whales, seahorses, dolphins, and humans. 
  • Second, they form mutualistic relationships with other creatures by offering cleaning services and feeding on parasites, fungi, bacteria, and dead tissue on the external surface of these organisms. 
  • Lastly, as scavengers, they recycle nutrients trapped in animal particles, scraps, leftovers, and carcasses by feeding on them, making them part of their bodies, and then giving them to other organisms, which, in turn, feed on the shrimps. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Shrimp

Are shrimps and prawns the same?

Because they came from the same taxonomic umbrella group (same order but different suborder), prawns and shrimps share many similarities, such as having ten legs, an exoskeleton, antennae, and pincers. However, despite plenty of similarities, prawns and shrimps are different from each other. They vary in terms of anatomical differences, habitat, and even size. 

Are all shrimps born males?

Shrimps are born with the ability to become both. Some classify them as hermaphroditic for having both male and female reproductive systems, but their development is strangely unique compared to other hermaphroditic animals. 

Upon reaching maturity, shrimps often turn male (the male reproductive system fully develops). After some time, their female reproductive system develops, and then they turn female. They then live as females until they die. 

How smart is a shrimp?

Unfortunately, shrimps have tiny and very simplified brains. Don’t expect them to identify stuff or even swim through mazes. However, they do have enough capabilities to recognize threats and swim away from these perceived threats. They also have enough brain power to process the colors that their photoreceptors receive.

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