A side view of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp.  Courtesy of Roy L. Caldwell


Not So Mr. Nice Guy

      Odontodactylus scyllarus may look small but it sure does pack a punch when it needs to. The way the peacock mantis shrimp interacts with other organisms is one of a kind and the methods they use are like none other you have seen before.  These peacock mantis shrimp aren’t the type of shrimp to let other organisms come and take over their area and home. They are extremely territorial and have multiple ways of defending their precious home and territory (National Aquarium 2014). Although, they aren’t the sharing type, they are known for doing a good deed for other organisms that need a home. Peacock mantis shrimp quite often create new burrows and leave the old ones behind, which then help create a home for other aquatic animals seeking a place to live (Baxamusa 2010). Peacock mantis shrimp are extremely aggressive when protecting and hunting both during the day and night (“Odontadactylus scyllarus” 2012).

Peacock mantis shrimp at Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia.  Copyright of Matthew Oldfield

      Peacock mantis shrimp has a very unique function in their eyes, which are capable of seeing in ultraviolet, polarized light, and regular color through the structure in their eye know as their stalked compound eyes (Claverie, Chan, and Patek 2011). The vision they have is way more complex than the human containing 12 different cells to the 3 of a human (Science and Nature: Animals; National Aquarium 2014). This rare sight of theirs is one of the many reasons that the Mantis Shrimp is such a successful hunter. For example, the stalks on its eyes allow it to make better observations when sizing up prey and predators from the safety of the their burrows (Science and Nature: Animals 2014; National Aquarium 2014). Sight isn’t the only thing they have going for them, they also can communicate through vibrations made by contractions in the posterior muscles. This very unique function can be used for territorial and defensive purposes, and they can generate these rumbles while in their burrow that therefore warns off predators or at least makes them keep their distance (Cronin and Marshall 2001). The artillery of amazing abilities doesn’t stop there  the peacock mantis shrimp can also detect smells while it is in the water (Cronin, Marshall, and Land 1994). (See Form and Function)Tuna a predator of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp. Permission of NOAA

     Peacock mantis shrimp aren’t known to have many other aquatic predators although, they have been found in large fish such as the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) (Patek and Caldwell 2005). For the most part they don’t have to worry about being preyed on too much because they are carnivores and sit near the top of the food web.Peacock mantis shrimp smashing through a snail's shell.  Copyright of Roy Caldwell This depends on the size of the individual because if smaller they may be prey for other fish. As for what they prey on includes: snails, clams, crab, and many small fish.  Another important thing to take note of is how colorful the peacock mantis shrimp is. The visual design can be used to communicate to not just other mantis shrimp but also predators by flashing the colors, which increases their conspicuousness (Science and Nature: Animals 2014).

     As for importance to humans there isn’t much connection beside the fact that we can research and study them while they are in captivity and learn more of the secrets behind their amazing eyesight and the insane amount of power behind the claw appendages. Likewise, there aren’t really any other effects on humans but for uses, there is a Japanese cuisine where mantis shrimp are eaten boiled as a sushi topping called shako. An additional, fact is the peacock mantis shrimp is not considered endangered or threatened ("The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" 2013).

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