One of Mother Nature’s most amazing creations is the Mantis Shrimp. Just like the Pistol Shrimp we learned about a long time ago, the mantis shrimp is equipped with some extraordinary features that help them to survive in the wilderness of the vast oceans.
They have superpowers that humans can only dream of, but down there on the ocean and sea bed, these superpowers are no more than survival instruments without which, these creatures simply cannot survive.
Let us learn 40 interesting mantis shrimp facts and find out what they are capable of.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 1-5
1. Mantis shrimps are marine crustaceans that are known as stomatopods.
2. There are more than 450 documented species of mantis shrimp. They vary widely in color. Some can have brown shades while others can be of vivid color.
3. On an average, they grow up to the length of 3.9 inches or 10 centimeters. However, there are certain species that can grow as long as 15 inches or 38 centimeters.
4. Mantis shrimps are predators. Often in several locations, they turn out to be extremely important predators, responsible for maintaining ecological balance in the marine environment.
5. They are commonly found in shallow subtropical and tropical marine habitats, but prefer spending most of their time in holes and burrows, making it extremely difficult for humans to study them.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 6-10
6. These shrimps have been known by different names. For example, Australians call them prawn killers, ancient Assyrians used to call them sea locusts. Today, many people refer to them as thumb splitters.
7. Though small, these creatures are pretty dangerous. If not handled properly, they are capable of inflicting severe pain using their powerful claws.
8. Their claws play a very important role. In fact, their claws are their primary hunting tools. They can use their claws for dismembering, stunning or spearing their prey.
9. The claws of some of the larger species of mantis shrimp are so powerful that they can actually break the glass of an aquarium using just one strike.
10. Based on the usage of their claws, these stomatopods are broadly categorized as ‘smashers’ and ‘spearers’.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 11-15
11. Smashers are those species of mantis shrimp which have extremely powerful claws with highly developed clubs. They use their claws to smash their prey apart. They also have spears (tiny appendages), but they are very rudimentary in nature. These spears are still sharp enough, but usually not used for hunting. They use it for fighting within themselves.
12. Spearers on the other hands have appendages that are spiny with barbed tips. In order to kill a prey, shrimps of this group will snag and stab their prey with their appendages.
13. Irrespective of whether a mantis shrimp is a smasher or a spearer, it will strike very rapidly. It will unfold and swing the raptorial claw towards the prey and in the process, inflict serious damage.
14. Because smashers have more developed claws, they attack with blinding quickness. So, exactly how fast are they? Smashers achieve an acceleration of 335,000 ft/s2 and a speed of 23 meters per second.
15. When the smashers strike with such great speed, they manage to create a cavitation bubble between their claws and the surface they are striking at.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 16-20
16. During such a strike by a smasher, there are two different forces that act on the prey. First one is a force of 1,500 newtons directly on the body of the prey and then the implosion of the cavitation bubble which sends out a shockwave that kills or stuns the prey. Even if the first strike misses, the cavitation bubble implosion invariably succeeds.
17. This mode of attack by the smashers is very similar to that of Pistol Shrimps in almost every aspect. The imploding cavitation bubble creates very high temperatures that can range well up to several thousand Kelvins.
18. Because of such high temperatures, the collapsing bubble produces sonoluminescence. Put in simple words, it produces light. However, the implosion is extremely short-lived and weak compared to the remaining environment. It is because of this, sonoluminescence cannot be seen with naked eyes. Only highly specialized equipment can detect it.
19. Scientists say that sonoluminescence really has no biological significance and is only a side-effect.
20. Smashers prefer to go for hardy prey like oysters, molluscs, crabs and snails because they prefer to smash their prey. The spearers, on the other hand, prefer to go for softer prey like fish so that they can easily slice and snag them.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 21-25
21. When it comes to behavior, mantis shrimps exhibit pretty complex behavior. They often engage in ritualized fighting within the same species.
22. For communication, they often make use of the fluorescent pattern found on their bodies. These patterns may be used for communication with other species or individuals within the same species.
23. Mantis shrimps have pretty good memories. They are capable of recognizing their neighbors with whom they interact on a regular basis. In order to do this, they make use of individual smell or through visual signs.
24. These creatures have a very long lifespan. In the unforgiving conditions of the marine biome, they can live up to 20-30 breeding seasons.
25. In certain species of mantis shrimps, males and females come together only during the mating season and when they are done, they just part their ways.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 26-30
26. There are other species that show monogamous relationship in which a male or a female will live with only one opposite sex partner for a very long time, often up to 20 years.
27. Partner mantis shrimps in a monogamous relationship will share a single burrow and will display coordinated activities like males and females both taking care of eggs or only females taking care of eggs while males taking care of hunting for both.
28. In some species, females lay two egg clutches. One clutch is taken care of by the mother while the other is taken care of by the male.
29. When it comes to super powers of mantis shrimps, we need to talk about their eyes. These creatures are equipped with THE MOST ADVANCED AND COMPLEX eyes in the whole animal kingdom and humans are nowhere even close in competition.
30. Mantis shrimps are known for their extremely complex and highly elaborate visual system that allows them to see in the light spectrum or recognize colors that many other animal species don’t even know that they exist!
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 31-35
31. Compared to 3 or at the most 4 color receptive cones in human eyes, mantis shrimps are equipped with 16 different types of color receptive cones.
32. 6 specialized ommatidia rows sit in the midband region of the eyes of a mantis shrimp. Of these 6 rows, 4 are equipped with photoreceptor pigments of 16 different types. Out of these 16 different photoreceptor pigments, 4 are meant for filtering color while 12 are meant for color sensitivity.
33. The eyes of mantis shrimps are not attached to their heads. They rather sit on mobile stalks. Each eye is capable of moving independently of the other.
34. The midband in each eye divides the eye into three separate regions. One region is the midband and the other two regions are the flat hemispheres separated by the midband.
35. Each of these three parts in a single eye can see an object separately. This means that each eye is equipped with trinocular vision, allowing accurate depth perception.
Mantis Shrimp Facts: 36-40
36. These crustaceans are capable of perceiving multispectral images as well as polarized light. They can also see in the ultraviolet spectrum. In fact, their vision is so advanced that they can actually detect the different planes of the polarized light.
37. From an evolutionary aspect, mantis shrimps enjoy great advantages because of their complex eyes. Scientists believe that these creatures use polarization vision to secretly communicate with others while avoiding unwanted attention from predators.
38. Combined with their polarization vision, their ability to see more colors allows them to recognize prey more effectively. For instance, some of their prey species are semi-transparent or transparent. This is where polarization comes in handy.
39. Not just for hunting, mantis shrimps also use their polarization vision to avoid natural predators like barracuda that are known for having shimmering scales, making them difficult to identify.
40. In 2014, researchers of University of Queensland published a study in which they stated that since polarized light is reflected differently by healthy and cancerous tissues, mantis shrimps are capable of identifying neuron activity and cancerous tissue.
According to the study, the same effect can be replicated using specialized cameras that use aluminum nanowires atop photodiodes. According to the researchers, the aluminum nanowires can replicate the polarization-filtering effects present in mantis shrimps.