Mantis Shrimp

Published: 10-18-13

Since two of the other blogs in this group already deal with music related topics, I decided to switch my music post to a science/biology post about interesting animals.  This week’s animal is the Mantis Shrimp.

What’s so interesting about the mantis shrimp, you ask?  Well first of all, they have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom.  Human eyes are receptive to three colors: red, blue, and green.  All colors we see are some combination of those three colors.  Mantis shrimps, on the other hand, have not three, not five, not nine, but twelve different color receptors.  In addition to color sensitivity, the mantis shrimp has unsurpassed depth perception.  Why does the mantis shrimp need such complex eyes?  To catch its prey, of course!  This is where the mantis shrimp gets even more interesting.

See those two pinkish club-like things?  That’s what the mantis shrimp uses to kill its prey.  Those clubs shoot out at 80 kilometers per hour and are hard enough to smash through almost anything.  A strike from a mantis shrimp can generate up to 1,500 newtons of force.  To put that into perspective, that’s about the same amount of force a falling 340 pound object would create.  Since they strike so fast, their appendages cause such a large change in pressure that the water around boils in a process known as supercavitation.  A shockwave forms and the water can reach temperatures up to several thousand kelvin in addition to supercavitation.  The mantis shrimp uses this power to smash through the shells of crabs, clams, and other molluscs as well as some unlucky fish.

The mantis shrimp can grow up to a foot in length and live mainly in shallow tropical marine habitats.  If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen these in any aquariums is because of the club-like-things we discussed before.  Mantis shrimp may end up killing most of the other animals living in its tank.  They are also known to be able to break through the aquarium glass with their clubs.  I’ve attached a video and an infographic by The Oatmeal in my sources if you want to learn more about the mantis shrimp.  For my next animal blog post I’ll try to find a furry-er animal since everyone likes those.


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  1. It is absolutely incredible how a “shrimp” can possess such power and strength! I wouldn’t want to encounter one of these bad boys in the deep blue sea, who knows what may happen. The mantis shrimp was very interesting to read about, especially because I did not know such an intriguing critter existed!

  2. This animal is almost robotic with its “super-vision” and “super-punch”. It’s also one of the craziest looking creatures I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing to think about how such a small creature can be so powerful, as well, and I would definitely not want to get in the ring with it.

  3. Wow! I never knew the crazy strength of these little guys! This is fascinating, and I wonder what it is like to see with there eyes. (This is exceptionally interesting as I am a color blind male). Great blog I look forward to future highlights!

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