Phylum Arthropoda / subphylum Crustacea
Species 451 different Species
Mantis Shrimp Basics
The category of shrimp known as mantis shrimp is an interesting one. Mantis shrimp are real predators, while other shrimp species graze on microscopic invertebrates or scavenge on dead organisms. The specialised forelimbs of mantis shrimp enable them to pierce or shock victims, and this characteristic divides them into subgroups.
These forelimbs are used as clubs by “smashers.” Because these enhanced forelimbs have so much strength, they can produce forces that are unrivalled in the animal world. In a fraction of a second, the club may attain speeds of around fifty miles per hour. This produces a force of almost 1,500 newtons, which is equivalent to a 340-pound item crashing on the victim! However, the club’s acceleration generates a sound wave that slams into the victim soon after the real club. Smashers now have a “1-2 punch” that can paralyse considerably bigger victims.
“Spearers,” on the other hand, possess strong spines on their appendages, which they use to immolate small fish as well as other prey. Spearmen are able to strike with great power and precision. Spearers, in contrast to Smashers, like to dwell on soft substrates like sand. They watch for an unfortunate fish to swim by before impaling it at high speed.
The majority of mantis shrimp have remarkable colours that may be used for both concealment and communication. Certain species are dark or drab in colour, which enables them to blend in with the seafloor. Several, like the peacock mantis shrimp, use vivid colours to deter predators. If that fails, then their devastating blow may hurt or frighten away a large number of prospective predators.
Interesting Insights from the Mantis Shrimp!
Even if the study of the Mantis Shrimp weren’t fascinating enough. They can also teach us a lot about larger biological ideas. Take a look!
Mantis Shrimp Hunting Adaptations
Smashers and Spearers, two distinct varieties of mantis shrimp, illustrate the adaptability of crustaceans. Despite the fact that mantis shrimp evolved from a single ancestor around 200 million years ago, their front limbs serve quite distinct purposes. Smashers just strike prey with the strong power of their mantis-like front legs, while spearers possess pointed barbs on their arms that immolate and seize victims.
Consequently, the two groups focus on different species of prey. Spearers like fish that are soft and meaty. Smashers go for tougher prey, including other crustaceans, snails, and oysters. Their club-like limbs may tear through these creatures’ shells to get access to the nutrients within.
This divergence in prey kind and utilisation might have been the catalyst for speciation in this group. Mantis shrimp are found in coastal places all over the world, and there are approximately 450 distinct species.
Another adaptation of the mantis shrimp which renders them effective predators, in addition to their fantastic weapon-like limbs, compound eyes are seen in many arthropods, including mantis shrimp. Compound eyes are comparable to human eyes in function, but they are constructed rather strangely. In place of a single lens that focuses light onto the retina, the receptor cells in these eyes are directly positioned on the surface.
Mantis shrimp, on the other hand, have the most sophisticated and functioning compound eyes of any animal ever investigated. Mantis shrimp have up to 16 distinct kinds of cells in their eyes. However, only three kinds of human cells can detect different colours as well as wavelengths of light. Therefore, it is believed that mantis shrimp can see a broad spectrum of wavelengths that are undetectable to humans. This indicates that mantis shrimp can see unseen infrared and ultraviolet light.
This incredible talent also explains why mantis shrimp are often brilliantly coloured.
Coloration as Communication
Many animals use their colouring to communicate. Bees and many insects, for example, have “warning colouring” that allows other animals to identify them as harmful. Peacocks, for example, have created vibrant colour schemes to attract mates. More colourful partners are chosen throughout time, resulting in incredibly colourful males or females.
Mantis shrimp seem to use a combination of both. Their brilliant colour serves as a warning to would-be predators that they are dangerous. Researchers have discovered that mantis shrimp may use their colouring to attract mates and communicate with other mantis shrimp. Some species have biofluorescence, which they may use to warn their partners or other shrimp intruding on their territory.
These shrimp can perceive patterns and hues of light that aren’t apparent to the naked eye because of their incredible compound eyes. While scientists know that these shrimp communicate using coloured signals, the techniques and procedures by which they do so are still unknown. This is mostly due to the fact that we need sophisticated scientific tools to determine what light mantis shrimp exhibit and how they interpret light signals.