The Mantis Shrimp, Stomatopoda: A Look at the Force and Speed of The Underwater Strikes of a Violent Predator

The Mantis Shrimp, Stomatopoda: A Look at the Force and Speed of The Underwater Strikes of a Violent Predator

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In the tropical oceans of the South Pacific lurks a predator that violently launches itself at its prey and spears it with raptor-like blades. These animals have been known to reach speeds so great that they can break aquarium glass. They are a crustacean commonly known as mantis, shrimp and they belong to the phylum Arthropoda and the class Stomatopoda. All have an exoskeleton, which means their bodies do not have internal bones for support. Other characteristics of Arthropod's are segmented bodies and bilateral symmetry. The exoskeleton is made of chitin, lipids, carbohydrates and protein. As arthropods, including mantis shrimp, grow they produce a newer, softer exoskeleton underneath the old exoskeleton and it must be shed or molted. The exoskeleton forms jointed appendages, such as antennae and legs, that allow for movement and flexibility. Mantis shrimp are renowned for their unusual method of being able to break the shells of their bivalve mollusk prey with brief, powerful strikes of their raptorial appendages(Patek and Caldwell, 2005).

Mantis shrimp are in the subphylum Crustacea, and the Class Malacostraca. Malacostracans have three-party body; head, thorax and abdomen and compound stalked or sessile eyes. Other characteristics of the Malacostracans are a two-chambered stomach and centralized nervous system. The eyes of mantis shrimp are unique and are composed of three parts; a dorsal and ventral hemisphere separated by a central mid-band with three pseudo-pupils (Land, et al, 1990). Mantis shrimps are aggressive predators whose behavior is largely guided by vision (Caldwell and Dingle, 1976).

The Stomatopods are predators that hunt and kill animals. They attack and capture fish, mollusks and other crustaceans with...


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...Montana. Contributions to Zoology, 67, 155-186.

Land, M. F., Marshall, J. N., Brownless, D., & Cronin, T. W. (1990). The eye-movements of the mantis shrimp Odontodactylus scyllarus (Crustacea: Stomatopoda). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 167(2), 155-166.
Motoyama, K., Suma, Y., Ishizaki, S., Nagashima, Y., Lu, Y., Ushio, H., & Shiomi, K. (2008). Identification of tropomyosins as major allergens in Antarctic krill and mantis shrimp and their amino acid sequence characteristics. Marine biotechnology, 10(6), 709-718.

Patek, S. N., & Caldwell, R. L. (2005). Extreme impact and cavitation forces of a biological hammer: strike forces of the peacock mantis shrimp Odontodactylus scyllarus. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208(19), 3655-3664.

Piper, R. (2007). Extraordinary animals: an encyclopedia of curious and unusual animals. Greenwood Publishing Group.

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