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Mantis shrimp have two superpowers

Peacock Mantis shrimp

Fun Facts for Kids

The colorful mantis shrimp has better eyesight than we do, and packs a harder punch!

Although called mantis shrimp. They are not really shrimp. They are part of a suborder called unipeltata which split from the ancestors of shrimp, lobsters, and crabs, about 193 million years ago.

They are not related to praying mantis insects either, but have clubbed front feet that look about the same. A praying mantis uses its folded front feet to grab prey, while some species of mantis shrimp use theirs as clubs or smashers to break apart the shells of crabs, oysters, snails, and slugs.  

Not only do their spring-loaded front feet travel as fast as a speeding bullet (between 23 miles per second or 51mph or 83 kph), these feet move fast enough to make their own shock wave. Even a mantis shrimp misses, the boiling bubbles created in the water result in a shock wave, that alone can kill their prey.

Complex eyes

The other amazing mantis shrimp superpower involves their eyes. They are on are stalks and move independently of each other. This gives them very good depth perception. Their eyes are thought to be the sharpest eyes in the animal kingdom.

Found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, mantis shrimp can see ultra-violet and infrared. Their eyes have 10,000 small photoreceptive units and are compound like a fly’s.

While we see only shades of red, green, and blue because we have three photo-receptor cones, mantis shrimp have 12 to 16. They also see polarized light that radiates from different directions underwater, like the sheen from a fish’s scales.

The mantis shrimp sees different kinds of light than we do. For example, the special kind of spiraling light that makes their eyes are more sophisticated than DVD players. Since their eyes are so complex, scientists are studying them in hopes of revolutionizing satellites.

Mantis shrimp characteristics

Mantis shrimp are found in shades of red, orange, blue and green. The blend of colors in the Peacock Mantis Shrimp species are particularly striking.

There are also two types of mantis shrimp: smashers and spearers. The spearing type of mantis shrimp does not have clubs but uses their front feet to snag other prey like fish. Mantis shrimp are thought to live up to six years, and weigh as much as 0.6 kg (about 1.5 lbs). Although only mostly about 4 in (10 cm) long, they can grow to be 18 inches (46 cm).

Since they pack such a punch, mantis shrimp are called “thumb splitters and can injure divers that get too curious. It’s a good idea to stay away from these tough, and aggressive mantis shrimp!

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