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Peacock mantis shrimp Odontodactylus scyllarus

Fast facts

  • Highly specialised hunter
  • Force behind strike can crack the glass of an aquarium

Mantis shrimps are so named because they resemble praying mantises.

They live in burrows or in rock and coral reef crevices and aggressively defend their territories against intruders.

Mantis shrimps are highly specialised hunters – they kill their prey either by “spearing” or “smashing” it with large grasping limbs.

“Spearers” hunt by stabbing soft-bodied animals like shrimp and small fish with a swift upward lunge of a barbed “finger” on the grasping claw.

“Smashers” strike and disable their prey like crabs and molluscs by using the reinforced heel of the grasping limb. The force behind the strike is similar to a small-calibre bullet and can easily crack the glass of an aquarium!