“There comes a moment in every ecologist’s life when we see what they are made of, to see how they perform under literal fire” - Me, like twenty seconds ago when looking for a way to open this.
Turns out as sure as this is Issue #30, that when shot at I cowardly drive away, oh the shame. Maybe last weeks animal, the Yellow Tailed Scorpion would have done the same but this weeks animal, chosen by @darthaznable has a bullet infused punch and a pugnacious attitude to match
Issue #30 Peacock Mantis Shrimp
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Arthropoda
Class – Malacastraca
Order – Stomatopoda
Family – Odontodactylidae
Genus – Odontodactylus
Species – scyllarus
Related Species - Despite being known as a ‘shrimp’ the Peacock Mantis Shrimp is part of an unrelated family known as the Stomatopods(1)
Range - The Peacock Mantis Shrimp can be found from off the coast of Indonesia and Guam to the Eastern shores of tropical and subtropical Africa.
Eyes of a Rainbow, Fist of a Bullet
The Peacock Mantis Shrimp is one of the larger stomatopods, growing from 3 to 18cm in length and possessing a bright green carapace decorated with black leopard like spots along the flanks, and orange legs. The most obvious feature of any stomatopods is the eyes, which are some of the most advanced in the animal kingdom. Mounted on turrets, the eye is split into two large hemispheres with a thin strip down the meridian, giving the mantis shrimp ‘trinocular’ vision to aid in hunting. Along the eye are six strips of photoreceptors which allow it to see polarised light, as well as filter different wave lengths of light, across the UV and Visual range of the electromagnetic spectrum (2).
Its good eyesight helps the Peacock Mantis Shrimp when hunting, especially when it targets fast moving prey. Once locked on the Peacock Mantis Shrimp lashes out with a pair of barbed club like appendages at lightning fast speeds (23m/s from a standing start with an acceleration of over 10,000g) and hits the prey with a force of around 1000 newtons. If for some reason the Mantis Shrimp misses it needn’t punch tight, the acceleration of its strike creates a super-cavitation bubble of air that explodes when released, often stunning or even killing the prey (3).
The Peacock Mantis Shrimp, like other stomatopods, is highly territorial and will defend its home burrow from intruders. When meeting a rival mantis shrimp, the owner of the burrow fluoresces in attempt to deter the intruder, but if evenly matched will engage in ritualised fighting. Stomatopods who regularly engage each other will remember their neighbours from their scent and visual signs when they meet.
Five Fun Peacock Mantis Shrimp Facts
If one type of Mantis Shrimp wasn’t bad enough, a second type, with a spear like raptorial limb exists. Like their club clawed relatives they also create a super cavitation bubble when striking.
While all stomatopods have good vision the Peacock Mantis Shrimp takes it even further. It is one (of two) species that can see circular polarised light, that aids in targeting.
The bubble created by the strike can become so hot on detonation that is produces sonoluminescence. The unrelated Pistol Shrimps (Family - Alpheidae) also creates this effect when snapping its claws
The combination of good eyesight and deadly strikes make the Peacock Mantis Shrimp unsuitable for keeping in aquariums. The species regularly attacks its reflection and can crack glass with a single strike.
Despite the ferocity of their attacks the clubs of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp never shatter thanks to an organic ceramic called Hydroxyapatite. Scientists are currently trying to create a synthetic version to create stronger mining equipment and vehicle armour(4)
1 - www.arkive.org
2 - David Cowles, Jaclyn R. Van Dolson, Lisa R. Hainey & Dallas M. Dick (2006). "The use of different eye regions in the mantis shrimp Hemisquilla californiensis Stephenson, 1967 (Crustacea: Stomatopoda) for detecting objects". Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology330 (2): 528–534
3 - S. N. Patek & R. L. Caldwell (2005). "Extreme impact and cavitation forces of a biological hammer: strike forces of the peacock mantis shrimp". Journal of Experimental Biology208(19): 3655–3664
4 - Sarah Everts (2012). "How a peacock shrimp packs a punch: layered structure is behind animal's resilient club". Chemical & Engineering News90
1 - http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--CO9FUnTquE/T7nvf52gH7I/AAAAAAAACHI/XI70HwdxIFc/s1600/ishot-1205202343421.jpg
2 - http://www.chicagonow.com/greenamajigger/files/2013/04/tumblr_l8rt66nw331qzs4d0o1_500.jpg
3 - http://pix.avaxnews.com/avaxnews/f2/b1/0000b1f2_medium.jpeg
And that is the pure power behind the Peacock Mantis Shrimp. Next issue we get all abuzz about the selection of @dboyrules2011, but until then remember to comment, drop a suggestion of a creature to cover and check out the Bestiary of Past Issues