Anyway, in the spirit of this research I decided to write a post sharing my love for mantis shrimp. Because they are freakin’ awesome. First things first, mantis shrimp are actually not a shrimp (or a mantis). Although they do kind of look like a cross between the two, they are in their own crustacean group.
Some species look especially like praying mantises when capturing their food, which is where the name came from.
However, if you think that looks scary, let me tell you about the ‘smashers’. Instead of spearing their prey (as above), they punch it. And when they punch, they do it properly. It is the fastest punch in the animal kingdom, which is pretty amazing since it’s in water, and creates a cavitation bubble. Cavitation is when a small bubble forms in a liquid due to extreme forces. When this bubble bursts the prey is damaged. So the prey not only gets hit by the ‘raptorial appendage’ (what a bad-ass name!), it also gets a second blow from the cavitation bubble. The prey doesn’t stand a chance!
Besides these ninja-like features, they also have the most complex visual system known to man! They have up to 16 visual pigments (humans have three), can see UV, infrared and polarised light (as well as the light we can see), can perceive depth with only one eye and can move each eye independently! It’s impossible to even imagine what the world looks like to a mantis shrimp.
So next time you go out snorkelling or diving on a coral reef, look out for a mantis shrimp. These bright and colourful critters are awesome, which I’m guessing is why so many people want them as aquarium pets. And there is still so much more to learn about these animals and how they behave in the wild!