Stomatopods, or mantis shrimp, are an exceptional order of marine crustaceans made up of over 500 species that live in a variety of benthic habitats around the world. They are aggressive predators that actively seek out their prey with an advanced suite visual and chemosensory organs. Stomatopods are immediately distinguished by a pair of enlarged raptorial appendages located ventrally, near their heads. Stomatopods use these appendages as their primary means of predation, as well as for digging in substrate, defense, and intraspecific sparring.
The appearance of the raptorial appendages varies from species to species as they are evolutionarily specialized for capturing or killing distinct prey animals. The raptorial appendages can be deployed at lightning speeds, and with tremendous force relative to the size of the stomatopods; which can range from under 2 cm to 40 cm body length. Depending on the species, these appendages can be employed to smash, spear, or grab their prey.
Here are video examples of “smasher” and “sprearer” stomatopods in action:
Odontodactylus scyllarus smashes the shells of mollusks and crustaceans.
Lysiosquillina maculata ambushes swimming fish and crustaceans, spearing them out of the water column. Click through to Youtube to see this one.
Since the 1960′s, a series of research has unraveled the speed, power, and mechanics of the stomatopod’s astonishing attack.
Continue reading ‘Why Stomatopods are Awesome, I: Super Strength’