Meet the mantis shrimp; a spectacularly colorful, gorgeous crustacean which would merrily eat your brains with a nice chianti and a side of fava beans if it had half a chance. In the high school crustacean class of 5 million BC, the mantis shrimp was voted most likely to be mistaken for a hostile alien.
Don’t be fooled by all those pretty rainbow colors, this lethal ninja of bottom feeders is nicknamed the ‘thumb splitter’ for the digit-ending damage it does to the unwary who make the mistake of thinking it’s just another shrimp cocktail in the making. Mantis shrimp have an arsenal of deadly weaponry which they use to kill everything that moves in their general direction. Here is a recount of their weapons systems:
Claws: These death-dealing hooks of homicide are used to stun, stab and dismember prey. Mantis shrimp are divided into two main groups. These include the spearers (I kid you not) that have spikes on their claws with which to stab prey and the smashers which have a more developed club claw with which to bludgeon their dinner to death.
Shock and awe: The claws are brought to bear with a blinding speed of 23 m/s or the speed of a .22 bullet. The rapidity of their strike creates cavitation bubbles which also hit the prey like a shock wave with a force of 1,500 newtons. As the bubbles collapse they produce heat to the tune of several thousand kelvins which causes the water to boil beneath the shrimp and emit tiny bursts of light called sonoluminescence.
Eyes: The mantis shrimp has the most complex eyes in the whole animal kingdom. Mantis shrimp have 16 color receptors to our 3 which means that they can see colors Crayola doesn’t even have names for.
The mantis shrimp is a sweet-looking rainbow shrimp of death that wrecks havoc on the unsuspecting and pounds, stabs and dismembers its prey for fun while seeing all the action in vivid three dimensions with wicked coloring.
Comic strip from wickedly funny The Oatmeal – click here for the whole cartoon on mantis shrimp and why they should be both revered and feared.
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