The Mantis Shrimp
Published by marco on
A little while back, I read about the mantis shrimp (Wikipedia) in a comic called Why the mantis shrimp is my new favorite animal (The Oatmeal). The comic is both amusing and informative, describing and depicting the shrimp’s unbelievable visual organs (here, citing Wikipedia):
“The midband region of the mantis shrimp’s eye is made up of six rows of specialized ommatidia. Four rows carry 16 differing sorts of photoreceptor pigments, 12 for colour sensitivity, others for colour filtering. The mantis shrimp has such good eyes it can perceive both polarized light and multispectral images.”
However, as also noted in the comic and Wikipedia, the mantis shrimp is probably pound-for-pound the most flat-out psychotic hunter-killer that has ever evolved on this planet.
“[…] mantis shrimp sport powerful claws that they use to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning, or dismemberment. Although it only happens rarely, some larger species of mantis shrimp are capable of breaking through aquarium glass with a single strike from this weapon”
It’s so utterly overpowered for its ecological niche, one wonders what kind of predator would even go near such a thing. All sources see fit to mention that you keeping one in an aquarium is just asking for a bloodbath.
The comic author hypothesizes that the worlds as observed by such a sensorium must be achingly beautiful. See the screenshot to the right or click through to the comic itself.
I was reminded of the cartoon when Ze Frank recently covered the mantis shrimp with another in his ongoing “True Facts” short-video series. The footage does not disappoint; watch until the end to see a 10-inch mantis shrimp chasing an octopus 20 times its size.