Mantis Shrimp: The Ferocious Thumb Splitters

By Hannah Henegar OdontodactylusScyllarus2

Shrimp are marine creatures with the appearance of having a lengthened body partnered with a fully-developed abdomen, having 10 combined legs found in the thorax.

Fun Facts About Shrimp:

Fact 1: There are different species of shrimp that can be found all over the world, and some of them have brown, pink, royal red, and other different colors.

Fact 2: There are different kinds of shrimp that can be found in the ocean, such as Florida shrimp,  and other bodies of water where marine creatures live. Some of them are: Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus), Red or Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius), Camelback Shrimp (Rhynchocienetes uritai), Harlequin Shrimp, Pacific Cleaner Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus), and Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni).

Fact 3: Shrimp can only swim in a backward motion.

Fact 4: There are approximately 2,000 species of real shrimp that are known in the world.

Fact 5: There are three main divisions when it comes to the species of shrimp. They are the coldwater or the northern, tropical or warm water, or southern, and the third one is the freshwater.

Fact 6: Female shrimp have the ability to become pregnant with a total of 50,000 to 1 million eggs that will be hatching within a period of 24 hours.

Mantis Shrimps

The mantis grows to 8 to 10 inches in length. It has a flattened, translucent body with a pale green hue. Its abdomen and carapace (outside covering) are segmented, with each segment outlined in dark green or yellow. It has three pairs of walking legs, four pairs of clawed appendages (called maxillipeds) and one pair of long, jackknife claws that resemble a praying mantis. Its emerald green eyes are on stalks located on the top of its head. Sea mantis live along the low part of the shoreline, forming burrows within deep, muddy flats. Burrows are complex, with many large entrance holes. They can also be found in deeper waters. They can be found in the middle to lower Chesapeake Bay. Mantis shrimp eat live fish, crabs, worms and shrimp, including other mantis shrimp. They are aggressive, violent predator, using their sharp claws to spear or slice through prey with a quick, slashing motion.Because of its secretive, nocturnal habits, little is known about the mantis shrimp life cycle and mating habits.

Other Facts About The Mantis

  • The mantis shrimp is not actually a shrimp, but rather a shrimp-like crustacean.
  • Mantis shrimp are mostly nocturnal.
  • Their distinctive emerald eyes contain more photoreceptors than human eyes.
  • The strike velocity of a mantis shrimp’s large, powerful claws is one of the fastest movements of any animal on earth. It takes a mantis shrimp less than 8 milliseconds to strike, which is about 50 times faster than the blink of a human eye.

The Peacock Mantis

The peacock mantis is found in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It’s hard-shelled body is bursting with color with its forearms covered in spots. There are bright colors of red, green, orange, and blue. At the top of its head rests a set of protruding eyes.

These crustaceans have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom, containing millions of light-sensitive cells. With 16 color-receptive cones (compared to humans, who have just three), the peacock mantis shrimp can detect ten times more color than a human, including ultraviolet light. It can move each eye independently and uses this exceptional eyesight to avoid predators and track down prey.

The peacock mantis shrimp lives in the crevices and cracks of coral and rocks on the ocean floor. It has been known to  be territorial and exhibit aggressive behavior toward intruders. This shrimp has club-like appendages that fold beneath its body, resembling a praying mantis. It uses these appendages to attack prey. With the ability to strike at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet (50 times faster than the blink of an eye), a blow from a mantis shrimp can easily break through the shell of a crab or mollusk. Mantis shrimp typically grow to lengths of two to seven inches. These ferocious mantis shrimp, so called because they resemble a praying mantis, make up the order Stomatopoda. Some have powerful spiked claws which they punch into their prey, stunning, spearing and dismembering them. They have been called “thumb splitters” because of the severe gashes they can inflict if handled carelessly. These little guys are not something to mess with.