How can you tell a healthy shrimp from a sick one? Just place it on a treadmill and see how long it can run. At least that's what a team of scientists from the Pacific University in Oregon did - And the results were quite astonishing.
To conduct their experiment, Professor Scholnick and his team built a tiny treadmill, and submerged it. They then placed a number of shrimp on it to see what would happen. To their surprise the healthy ones managed to swim and run at speeds of up to 66 feet per minute, for three hours before they were fatigued . The scientists then added a challenge - they placed a small backpack made out of duct tape on the shrimp for extra weight. Even with the heavier load, the shrimp managed to run for about an hour.
However, shrimp that were not healthy did not do so well. Similar to sick humans, these crustaceans had a high blood lactate level making them sluggish. Lactate is by-product produced when glucose is converted to energy, and is efficiently discarded by the body when the person or shrimp is healthy. However, the sick shrimp could not get rid of it as efficiently and therefore did not perform as well in this aerobic activity.
The observations were important for the scientists because it gave them a great insight of how these creatures will perform in their natural habitat, which is becoming increasingly more polluted. Being sick is a matter of life and death for these tiny creatures, since it not only impacts their ability to find food, but also increases the chances of them being eaten by predators.
While the experiment itself was insightful, it is the video of the shrimp running on the treadmill that has the whole world astonished. Prior to this not many people had seen this unusual sight - infact we for one didn't even realize that shrimp had legs, let alone that they would be able to run for three hours straight. Simply amazing isn't it?
Source: Livescience.org, Telegraph.co.uk