Mantis shrimp or stomatopods are marine crustaceans, neither a mantis nor a shrimp. They may reach 30 centimetres (12 in) in length, in exceptional cases up to 38 cm (15 in) has been recorded. The Mantis Shrimp lives a solitary life and packs a mean punch. The mantis shrimp is a fascinating creature that has the ability to punch its prey into submission with a club that accelerates underwater at around 10,400 g (102,000 m/s2). Mantis shrimps typically occur in the shallow waters of tropical and subtropical seas.
They feed on various fish and invertebrates and are fast, efficient predators. The animal needs to be kept in special aquariums so it won’t break the glass. The clubber type mantis shrimp uses its raptorial appendages on the front of its body as a formidable weapon to break the shells of its prey – clams, crabs and snails. The club is a highly complex structure comprised of three highly specialized regions working together to create a structure tougher than many engineered ceramics. The mantis shrimp’s punch is one of the fastest movements in the animal world.
The Mantis Shrimp’s eyes are on stalks . Mantis Shrimps have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Human beings rely on three types of cells (pigment cells) to detect color. The mantis shrimp’s eyes have 16 specialized types of cells. Some of those detect colors people can’t even see, such as ultraviolet light. This animal has trinocular vision as compared to human beings whom have binocular vision.
In binocular vision, two eyes work together to focus on a single point. The brain then processes that information to determine depth or distance to that point. We compare the differences between the two images. Each eye of the Mantis Shrimp takes three separate images of the same object. Comparing all three gives them exceptionally precise range-finding.
The colors we see depend on the wavelength sensitivities of the visual receptors within our eyes as well as the wavelengths of light that enter our eyes. In color vision, light excites different classes of photoreceptor cells, containing different visual pigments, and the brain compares their differential light absorption. The eyes of Mantis Shrimp have eight classes of visual pigments for detection of color, as well as additional classes of visual pigments for sensing the polarization and distribution of light.
In addition, they have the ability of depth perception with a single eye, and sample their environment with many intricately coordinated eye movements. In contrast to the “camera eyes” of human beings, the eyes of mantis shrimps and many other Crustaceans are classified as “apposition compound eyes”. Apposition compound eyes are composed of many tiny optical elements (ommatidia), each with its own cornea and crystalline cone.
Not only does this ability enhance contrast, it also allows mantis shrimps to see transparent ‘invisible’ creatures and to recognise the light coming from the scales of fish. It also allows them to ‘see’ the phases of the moon and to predict the tides.
Mantis shrimps are very colourful and use visual display to communicate to predators and other mantis shrimp. The coloured flashes on their body warn other mantis shrimp that they may be about to attack. In the deep ocean, their colours shift from minute to minute, from hour to hour, with changing lighting conditions and changing conditions in the ocean.
Please visit THIS Science site for a wonderful page of images, videos and fascinating information about this amazing animal, e.g. the Peacock Mantis Shrimp. The site is a must visit in order to see a close up image of this creature’s fascinating eye that looks a bit like a computer monitor screen !!