Fun Fact Friday: Mantis Shrimp

© Silke Baron / Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the mantis shrimp has claws with such an incredibly fast and powerful strike, that some are able to break aquarium glass with one swing? It’s a fact!

The mantis shrimp, also known as “stomatopod”, has claws that can launch with the velocity of a bullet. This makes the mantis shrimp a formidable foe, even to much larger sea creatures, and makes it a less than desirable meal for predators. Mantis shrimp are often referred to by fishermen as “thumb splitters”, due to the potential for injury they pose if handled carelessly. In fact, their claws have such explosive power that their strikes actually create tiny implosions underwater, known as cavitation bubbles. The implosion is so strong that even if the actual claw strike misses, the force of the implosion is often enough to incapacitate their foe. This variety of mantis shrimp, known as the smasher, use their claws to attack shellfish and other edible creatures, such as snails.

While the powerful claws of the mantis shrimp are truly incredible, they have another surprising attribute: their eyes. Unlike a human, whose eyes only have 3 different types of photoreceptive cones (allowing us to see three colors and all the resulting color permutations), mantis shrimp have an amazing sixteen photoreceptive cones. This allows them a visual spectrum that we, as humans, can only imagine.

Want to know more? You can see the mantis shrimp in action in The Mantis Shrimp: Linking the Past to the Present (from the title First Life with David Attenborough) on DE streaming Plus!


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  1. Paula Naugle said:

    Would love to know what it is like to view the world from eyes that have 16 photoreceptive cones. Thanks for sharing.

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