Green Wednesday: Mantis Shrimp!!!

on 03 Apr 2013 
Mantis shrimp

Mantis shrimp or stomatopods are marine crustaceans, the members of the order Stomatopoda. They may reach 30 centimetres (12 in) in length, although exceptional cases of up to 38 cm (15 in) have been recorded. Mantis shrimp appear in a variety of colours, from shades of browns to bright neon colours. They are common animals and among the most important predators in many shallow, tropical and sub-tropical marine habitats.

Mantis shrimp sport powerful claws that they use to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning, or dismemberment. Although it happens rarely, some larger species of mantis shrimp are capable of breaking through aquarium glass with a single strike from this weapon. These aggressive and typically solitary sea creatures spend most of their time hiding in rock formations or burrowing intricate passageways in the sea bed. They either wait for prey to chance upon them or, unlike most crustaceans, at times they hunt, chase, and kill prey.

Their eyes (both mounted on mobile stalks and constantly moving about independently of each other) are similarly variably coloured and are considered to be the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. They permit both serial and parallel analysis of visual stimuli.  The mantis shrimp has such good eyes it can perceive both polarized light and multispectral colour vision.

They are commonly separated into two distinct groups determined by the manner of claws they possess:

  • Spearers are armed with spiny appendages topped with barbed tips, used to stab and snag prey.

  • Smashers, on the other hand, possess a much more developed club and a more rudimentary spear; the club is used to bludgeon and smash their meals apart. The inner aspect of the dactyl (the terminal portion of the appendage) can also possess a sharp edge, with which the animal can cut prey while it swims.

Both types strike by rapidly unfolding and swinging their raptorial claws at the prey, and are capable of inflicting serious damage on victims significantly greater in size than themselves. In smashers, these two weapons are employed with blinding quickness, with an acceleration of 10,400 g (102,000 m/s2 or 335,000 ft/s2) and speeds of 23 m/s from a standing start, about the acceleration of a .22 calibre bullet.

April

  • Australian Heritage Week - 13th to 21st
  • World Heritage Day  - 18th
  • International Mother Earth Day  - 22nd