What is a [tag]Mantis Shrimp[/tag]?
Well, you are looking at three of them in the photo above. I was walking through the IBSS and came across some [tag]Southeast Asian[/tag] [tag]seafood[/tag] purveyors who had some interesting displays, this one included. These [tag]animal[/tag]s are much larger than most shrimp, you would likely need two hands to hold one of them. They tend to be about 30 cm (11.8 inches) in length but have been known to grow to 38 cm (15 inches).
While they are referred to as shrimp and are in the crustacea subphylum, they are not actually shrimp at all. Their name comes from the fact that they look like a cross between a [tag]praying mantis[/tag] ([tag]terrestrial[/tag]) and a shrimp. They are also much more intelligent and fierce than your average shrimp. Their odd looking [tag]appendage[/tag]s in the front are not just funky eye candy. No, the [tag]mantis[/tag] [tag]shrimp[/tag] can use these claws to attack prey and predator (including fishermen’s fingers), with great force.
Pet mantis shrimp are so tough they can even break through the double glass walls of an [tag]aquarium[/tag].
“A truly pugnacious stomatopod (ed: mantis shrimp) can threaten not only aquarium fish but also the aquarium itself. In 1998, a 4-inch mantis shrimp at the Sea Life Centre in Norfolk, England, shattered the quarter-inch-thick glass of its aquarium. The power puncher was promptly christened Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tyson.Ã¢â‚¬Â ” Source = NWF
Yikes, this guy is not going to be added to any aquarium I have!
One other interesting fact about these curious sea creatures is that their eyes are the most [tag]complex eye structure[/tag]s known in nature. They are the only animals to have something called “hyperspectral color vision.”
“ Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mantis shrimp have the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most complex color vision system,Ã¢â‚¬Â according to Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These lowly crustaceans possess four times as many color receptors as humans, four of which sample the ultraviolet, a region of the spectrum to which we are blind.Ã¢â‚¬Â Stomatopods also can see polarized light. Marshall believes that for a mantis shrimp, polarized vision may be as rich a sensory experience as color vision.” Source = NWF
Ok, one more neat fact and then I will get on the the meat of the matter. These mantis shrimp are not only wily and throw their back into their battles, they are able to create balls of fire in their [tag]claw[/tag]s. Remember I said they can break an aquarium wall? Well, with those fierce claws, they can flick them out to attack their prey or tormentor. When the claw is flicked out, a “[tag]cavitation bubble[/tag]” forms (a void that is left behind by the rapid displacement of the claw). Things on this micro-scale (and nano-scale) are non-intuitive for us. We would not expect that this cavitation bubble would flash with light, heat as hot as the surface of the sun, and pop to produce sonic wavefronts that travel away from the mantis shrimp at high speeds (called [tag]sonoluminescence[/tag]).
You can try to view a [tag]video[/tag] of this activity at this link (I could not open the mov file, but thats just me, hope it works for you) – This video was found on this page and they give these credits – “Courtesy of Sheila Patek, Wyatt Korff and Roy Caldwell/UC Berkeley.”
For far more information on this and other aspects of Mantis Shrimp visit “Shrimp spring into shattering action” by [tag]April Holladay[/tag], a science journalist for USATODAY.com. I have borrowed a few resource links from her excellent article and put them at the bottom of this post.
Good eating, if you can get a hold of it that is.
They taste less like shrimp and more like [tag]lobster[/tag]. The Japanese call it “shako” and eat it raw and [tag]tempura[/tag] fried. The Italians eat it as a stewed dish called Ã¢â‚¬Å“canocie in busaraÃ¢â‚¬Â (stewed mantis shrimp) (found in “Cofanetto cucina del Bel Paese“). The Chinese eat them a million different ways, to be sure. You can visit one off-the-beaten path restaurant in Hong Kong to get your Mantis Shrimp fix, fried, combined with pepper and its own roe. The Spanish call them “[tag]galera[/tag]” and boil them in salt water. They probably serve them as a tapas in some seaside locations.
I hope you have learned something interesting about these odd creatures. I sure have. I am not sure I will be eating them any time soon as they are rarely found in any market I go to and I hear they are quite [tag]expensive[/tag].
Have you eaten these? Where did you find them? How were they cooked? Did you like them? Share if you can.
Resources for learning more:
- University of California: Secrets of the Stomatopod by Roy Caldwell
- Wikipedia: Pistol shrimp and shrimpoluminescence
- UC Berkeley News: Mantis shrimp may have swiftest kick in the animal kingdom by Robert Sanders.
- Edge-of-Reef.com: Peacock mantis shrimp Odontactylus scyllarus
Books of Interest: