Mantis Shrimp, profile view [109k]

Mantis shrimps come in a variety of species, but this species,
Odontodactylus scyallarus, is the most colorful of all. They are normally nocturnal, though I have seen and photographed many during daylight. They may be seen scurrying like a mouse from one coral ledge to another, cautiously pausing every few feet to scan their surroundings. Note the powerful front claws-- and thus the namesake resemblance to the garden insect called the Praying Mantis.

Did you know that stomatopod strikes are the fastest known movements in the animal kingdom? For more information about these fascinating creatures, there is an interesting web site named The Lurker's Guide to Stomatopods, maintained by Alan San Juan, devoted entirely to mantis shrimps.

The stomatopod
O. scyallarus is the first marine invertebrate species to be shown to have color vision.  Current research indicates their color vision is superior to human color vision, with the world's most complex retina and four times as many color receptors as humans. Dr. Justin Marshall of Australia's Vision Touch and Hearing Research Centre details some of the research on a page entitled Sensory Ecology Laboratory

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