Wild Fact #406 – All the Better to See You With – Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp

Photo by Silke Baron (Wikimedia)

The last Wild Fact of the week was suggested by my buddy, Jamie, who has been incredibly active on the blog the last week or so. I want to personally thank him for today’s awesome animal suggestion. I absolutely love the passion and enthusiasm that Jamie has towards wildlife and nature. I only wish more people had those same qualities. Okay, onto today’s Wild Fact! We are going to study a very confusing animal known as the Mantis Shrimp. You will find out why they are confusing in a minute but first let’s get ready for our trip to the ocean.

What’s in a Name?

The Mantis Shrimp is a marine crustacean, however, they are not actually a shrimp….or a Mantis for that matter. I told you they were a confusing little creature. They received this misleading name simply because they have a similar appearance to the amazing Praying Mantis as well as a shrimp. I guess that actually makes a lot of sense, if you break it down. The Mantis Shrimp has a large wardrobe and comes in a variety of colours from brown to bright, neon colours. I personally prefer the bright looking crustaceans since they seem to be more exciting.

Mantis Shrimp

Photo by Jenny (Wikimedia)

Eye See You

Although the diverse coloration of the Mantis Shrimp is pretty impressive, it is nothing compared to their eyes. Believe it or not, this little sea creature has the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom! Yep, you read that right. So what makes them so special? For starters, they are situated on stalks, so they are able to move independently from one another. Secondly, and more importantly, they can perceive polarized light as well as hyperspectral colour vision, which is just a fancy way of saying they can see many colour bands (i.e. ultraviolet, infared and of course normal colours). The composition of their eyes is far too complex to include in Wild Facts, but just know that the eyes of the Mantis Shrimp are very intricate and complex.

Meteorologist Extraordinaire

Why does a marine crustacean need such great eyesight? It allows them to recognize different species of coral, spot transparent food and even locate a hungry predator from great distances. Even more interesting is the fact that many people believe the Mantis Shrimp is able to use their eyes to detect the phase of the moon, which is important for mating purposes (females are only fertile during certain phases of the tidal cycle). As well, detecting the phase of the moon could provide this tiny organism with important tidal information such as the size of the upcoming tide. This is great information to have for a creature living in the shallow water along the shore. Who would have thought that the Mantis Shrimp would be able to do all of that with their eyes? Just imagine how many years of schooling the Mantis Shrimp optometrist has to complete to try understanding their eyes.

That does it for this week of Wild Facts! Enjoy your weekend.

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