Posts Tagged 'Odontodactylus'

Disney murders a crab

Disney Nature has a new IMAX documentary out titled, ‘Oceans‘. A quick survey of the reviews of the film indicates that a mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, is a part of the most memorable sequence of the film. Here is a clip of the mantis shrimp’s scene, (available in 1080p on Youtube). Near the beginning there is a really nice shot of the pseudopupil (the facets of the eye looking directly at the observer).

I, however, have a couple criticisms of this sequence. First off, this was almost definitely shot in an aquarium. Secondly, what is it with IMAX movie makers and repeatedly pushing animals towards stomatopod burrows until they lash out? Similarly to the sequence from ‘Deep Sea 3D’ where an octopus is forced to approach the burrow of a Hemisquilla californiensis, the mantis shrimp in this video shows no interest in predating the crab. He just seems to be trying to get the crab away from his hole. Normally, the crab would surely oblige if it wasn’t for the Disney filmmakers repeatedly pushing it back.

I can’t help but be reminded of Disney’s ‘White Wilderness‘ documentary where the filmmakers pushed lemmings off a cliff into the ocean in order to convince people, incorrectly, that lemmings engaged in suicidal behavior. They are quite a viscous bunch over in the Magic Kingdom.

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Arthropod Roundup, April 6, 2010

News, research, and posts about arthropods from around the web:

  • See amazing photos and learn all about hummingbird hawk moths, Macroglossum stellatarum at Scienceray.
  • Check out this video about lightning-fast animal movements. The first segment is about a gecko but the second one is about mantis shrimp strike mechanics (I talked about this in detail here).
  • Read about the mechanics of fruit fly auto-righting during flight at New Scientist. Research suggests that they use motion sensors in their second wing vestiges, called halteres, that are wired directly into the wing muscles; allowing the flies to react to perturbances faster than a visual signal can be processed.
  • Kevin over at Deep Sea News has a great post about the bazaar retina of the vent shrimp, Rimicaris exoculata. This retina has migrated from the eyes to the animal’s dorsal carapace where it may be used to sense blackbody radiation given off by the (infra)red-hot vents.
  • PZ at Pharyngula has a nice write-up about female crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus, antagonizing males to fight so that they can choose a more suitable mate. Bonus: Blindfolded male crayfish battling in a fluorescent urine cloud, set to Star Trek battle music.
  • Learn about how barnacles attack to whales at Scienceline.

Unlucky Octopus

Check out this brutal video from Roy Caldwell’s Lab at UC Berkeley. It shows the ‘interaction’ between a mantis shrimp (Odotodactylus scyllarus) and a blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata), when the latter is introduced into the mantis shrimp’s tank. Both of these animals occur amongst coral reef rubble in the Western Pacific, so it’s possible that they often meet in the wild. Take a look at what happens when they do…

Well, that didn’t go so well for the unfortunate octopus. Take that, squishies!

It’s unknown how the stomatopod copes with the venom of the blue-ring as it kills and devours the cephalopod.

You can learn more about keeping your own murderous mantis shrimp at Roy’s List.

Why Stomatopods are Awesome, I: Super Strength

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’


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Arthropoda can now be found here.

Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

Flickr Photos