Critter of the Week: Mantis Shrimp



Kingdom: Animalia

Clade: Euarthropoda

Subphylum: Crustacea

Class: Malacostraca

Subclass: Hoplocarida

Order: Stomatopoda

There are around 400 species of mantis shrimps, which can usually be found in tropical and subtropical waters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Mantis shrimps can reach up from 4-15 inches and pack a huge punch for such little guys. In fact, that is why mantis shrimps are not traditionally seen in aquariums because they can shatter the glass with their heavy strike. 



Mantis shrimps have the most complex eyes of all critters. Each eye of mantis shrimps contains 12 photoreceptors that allow them to see colors that humans don’t even have names for. To put this in perspective, human eyes typically contain only three types of photoreceptors for seeing green, red, and blue. 



All mantis shrimp species fall into the offense categories of either a spearer or smasher. Spearer mantis shrimps have a spiny attachment that kills soft-bodied prey like fish. The smashers, however, are quite extraordinary. Their strike is 50 times faster than the blink of an eye, accelerating faster than a .22-caliber bullet. Even if the smashing mantis shrimp misses its hard-bodied target, it still does some major damage by boiling the water around prey.



    The mantis shrimp uses its amazing eyesight to detect prey and predators. They have something called trinocular vision, which allows them to see one object using three parts of the eye. While humans see everything, we process only information that is most relevant to our situations. The mantis shrimp takes in all visual information at once without processing it allowing them to react to their environment as quickly as possible. 



    Some species of mantis shrimps are monogamous; an odd behavior in crustaceans. After mantis shrimps mate and their eggs are fertilized, females will lay two sets of eggs, one for her and one for the father to care for until they hatch. Depending on the species, the females will either lay their eggs in burrows or carry them in their forelimbs until they hatch! After hatching, the larvae can take days to months to mature into adults.