Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp Uncovered

by: Michael Phife
Whenever you think of a shrimp, the appearance of a mantis shrimp does not come to mind. In fact, they are not even related to shrimp at all but are in another category called Stomatopods. The mantis shrimp is vibrant in color that ranges from red, green, turquoise, and blue. They almost look like a small version of a lobster with beady eyes, but are much more menacing than that of a lobster.  These guys can even reach a foot in length, which is much larger than other crustaceans. They are found in many locations around the world, even off the coasts of Florida, and have been stated as the deadliest crustaceans for their size.



Being a lethal predator does not seem like something you would hear about for a shrimp of any sort, but you would be surprised when coming across them. Whenever the mantis shrimp clamps down with its pincers, they are able to exert 1,500 Newtons of force; this is equivalent to 337 pounds of pressure in a split second!  This will result in a shock wave in front of them, and is enough to kill small prey, or stun larger prey that comes into their vicinity. The aftermath of its clamp will also produce sonoluminescence, or in laymen’s terms, a small light which is formed from the bubble pocket that it creates when striking.


Don’t worry, this won’t kill us or cause fatal harm, but it may leave a gash on our bodies if we come too close. People who have been attacked by them have named them “thumb splitters” due to wounds inflicted by coming too close to their territory in the ocean.  Many people have these in aquatic culture, and some have even reported cracking or breaking the aquarium glass from their clamp alone. Their snap is audible outside of a glass aquarium, and those who own them say they can hear the snap of their claws at night.


In this video, you can see what a mantis shrimp looks like snapping their claws in slow motion:


Trinocular Vision, Really?

The mantis shrimp’s awe does not end with just its attack. These fascinating creatures have adapted to see in a color spectrum beyond our comprehension. Our eyes can only see in 3 types of color, whereas the mantis shrimp can see in 16! This gives them the ability to see in a multi-spectral frequency to view various wavelengths of light. Not only that, but they can move their eyes independently from each other like a chameleon. With all of these characteristics, they are the most unique and complex creatures in the crustacean family.