Humanity’s chest thumping superiority, the notion opposable thumbs and language trump other life forms, hasn’t considered the Mantis Shrimp – ounce for ounce, this bad ass crustacean is one specialized creature. Over 400 known species, ranging in size from a few inches to a 16 inch behemoth, Mantis Shrimp are classified as smashers or spearers.
Spearers have spiny appendages with barbed tips, smashers possess authoritative “clubs” accompanied by rudimentary spears. Start by pondering mantis shrimp as raptors in Jurassic Park – evolutionary perfection, culminating in predators of imposing effectiveness. Regardless of smashing/spearing distinctions, all mantis shrimp strike by rapidly unfolding “raptorial” claws. Even if they miss their prey, shock waves created by swift strike inertia, often does the job for them. Larger Mantis Shrimp have been known to shatter aquarium glass in a single blow.
Aggressive, solitary bottom dwellers, Mantis Shrimp are found hiding in rocks or digging tangled passageways in sea floors – generally in tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, and Pacific from eastern Africa to Hawaii. Some species wait for prey, others hunt and chase.
Consider above as preface to Mantis Shrimp rule, their actual story demands we ruminate Mantis Shrimp vision. Man has 3 types of colour receptive cones – Mantis Shrimp have 16. Perched on stalks, each eye moves independently of the other.Each eye is divided by 3 regions, each region performs a different task – capable of detecting polarized light, multi-spectral images and ultra-violet in 5 frequencies. Mantis Shrimp have more photo receptors and colour detecting cells than any animal on the planet.
Wait, there’s more – many species light up with fluorescent signals, colour coded beacons to identify themselves, or challenge others in documented exhibitions of ritualized fighting. Mantis Shrimp rule.
Ponder this clip from National Geographic –