Mantis Shrimp

With this page, I would like to draw your attention to the mantis shrimp. This is an amazing little creature that has received quite a bit of attention on the web. Some of the best sources are listed below.

One of the most amazing types of eyes is found in the mantis shrimp, a creature that lives on the sea bed of shallow waters. Its phenomenal eyes have three separate units that allow it to perceive a single location in space from three different positions, which means that it can perceive depth with a single eye. Moreover, the mantis shrimp’s eyes contain no less than 16 different types of photoreceptors, of which a whopping 12 are each sensitive to a different wavelength of light. In comparison: humans have only three of these, making our vision trichromatic.

A slightly more disturbing (but equally captivating) quality of the mantis shrimp, is its never ending lust for blood. These animals are equipped with very deadly weaponry, as you will appreciate after taking in all the material to which this page links. Despite being what is sometimes described as a psycho killer, some species of mantis shrimp show what we might interpret as deeply affectionate, eternal love. In these species, a male and a female form a lifelong couple, raising their babies together.


Beautifully coloured killer: a female Odontodactylus Scyllarus (source: Wikimedia Commons).

Miscellaneous media on the mantis shrimp

The Oatmeal

In one of his best posts ever, internet cartoonist The Oatmeal declared the mantis shrimp as his new favourite animal. The comic is an absolute must-read, and has even inspired some mantis shrimp merchandise.


Although the mantis shrimp is undoubtedly the most absurd creature of all time, it was tech and science blog WIRED’s creature of the week for only a single week. Really good read, though.


If both WIRED and The Oatmeal did not satisfy your hunger for facts about the mantis shrimp, please engorge on this Wikipedia entry. You will not be disappointed.

Zefrank on the mantis shrimp

The following video is by internet performer Ze Frank, and a brilliant piece of work. Note that I am not in any way a copyright holder; this site merely embeds the YouTube clip. All credits go out to the author!

Science on the mantis shrimp

Of course, all of the facts that you have now learned must have been discovered by someone. This is why science is such an amazing thing. It is an undepletable source of new, fascinating knowledge that never ceases to amaze. It feeds our curiosity, and improves our chances when looking for a mate by giving us random facts that we can use to fill uncomfortable silences. Apart from this, science gives us the opportunity to learn from our fellow species. Perhaps we may one day be able to perceive the beauty of our world in 12 colours, or strike down everything that moves with a lethal violence that only a mantis shrimp could inspire.

An example of a lab that investigates the mantis shrimp, is Duke University’s Patek Lab. Please visit their website for a list of shrimp-related publications, and some videos (including footage of mantis shrimp striking prey).

Science Magazine has also covered the mantis shrimp’s colour vision in two articles. These are summarised nicely by Sebastiaan Mathôt, on his blog. You can also read the articles directly from the links below:

  • Land, M. F., & Osorio, D. (2014). Extraordinary color vision. Science, 343(6169), 381–382. doi:10.1126/science.1249614
  • Thoen, H. H., How, M. J., Chiou, T.-H., & Marshall, J. (2014). A different form of color vision in Mantis shrimp. Science, 343(6169), 411–413. doi:10.1126/science.1245824


  1. Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

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