The peacock mantis shrimp is an amazing creature with one of the fastest jabs and most complex eyes in the animal kingdom.
The peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) is a favorite find among SCUBA divers and aquarium enthusiasts alike. Its colorful carapace, lengthy eyestalks, and lightning-fast punches make it a charismatic critter certainly worth learning more about.
Where to Find Peacock Mantis Shrimp
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The peacock mantis shrimp can be found in the Indo-Pacific from Guam to East Africa according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology “Roy’s List of Stomatopods for the Aquarium”. Often found near reefs these colorful critters can be found between 3 and 40 meters below the ocean. They live in burrows dug into the sand or under rock crevices.
Although peacock mantis shrimp can also be found sold among aquarium retailers be careful – adults are capable of chipping or even breaking aquarium glass.
Peacock Mantis Shrimp is Tough Predator
The peacock mantis shrimp is said to have the fastest strike in the animal kingdom. According to the magazine Popular Science in its October 2004 article “Sheila Patek”, Patek calculated the jab of a peacock mantis shrimp to shoot out at 51 miles per hour. According to Patek, muscles can’t store enough elastic energy to enable such a fast move. Instead, these fierce animals have a “Pringle-shaped structure” on their foreleg which acts as a spring, storing up energy for the kick. The BBC writes in its “Animal Fact Files -> Mantis Shrimp” that this blow produces a force near that of a .22 caliber bullet.
The peacock mantis shrimp is considered a ‘smasher’ by “Roy’s List of Stomatopods for the Aquarium” which simply means it uses its fierce blows to crush through the shells of its prey including crabs, snails, and clams.
The Peacock Mantis Shrimp’s Amazing Eyes
The mantis shrimp is the only animal on Earth that can see Circular Polarized Light (CPL), a system frequently used in high-tech communications. According to the Wired article “Shrimp Eyes May Hold Key to Better Communications” (Brandon Keim, March 2008) CPL is used in many satellite systems, to detect skin cancer, and perhaps one day in mobile phones. Mantis shrimp probably use CPL to communicate during sexual and territorial encounters although why is not yet known.
The mantis shrimp eye is further impressive for being able to see 100,000 different colors – 10 times that of humans. Finally, according to the PopSci article “The Eye of the Mantis Shrimp” (Matt Ransford, March 2008) the eye is divided into three regions which track motion, form, depth, and color without help from the brain.
What is a Mantis Shrimp?
The peacock mantis shrimp may look like a praying mantis but it is neither mantis nor shrimp. Rather, they belong to the order Stomatopoda and are distantly related to shrimp, crabs, and lobster. Regardless of how scientists decide to categorize them though, these fascinating creatures are certainly worthy of study.