Mantis Shrimps pack the fastest punch on earth and see a color spectrum beyond our imagination. Their compound eyes have inspired the development of sensors with biomedical applications, including early diagnosis of cancerous tissue – see Bioinspired Polarization Imaging Sensors. Some of the field work for that paper was carried out at the Lizard Island Research Station.

Mantis Shrimps

Mantis Shrimp Gonodactylus platysoma from Lizard Island © Mike Bok

There are lots of amazing Mantis Shrimp videos on YouTube.  We provide three below, with an indication of the viewing time required (minutes:seconds).  This True Facts video (4:0) provides an entertaining introduction.  If you are not yet familiar with these extraordinary creatures, prepare to be amazed!

The Mantis Shrimp is a class of crustacean called stomatopods. There are over 100 stomatopod species found on the Great Barrier Reef, including those listed in the Lizard Island Field Guide.

Mike Bok and his colleagues have recently published Biological Sunscreens, a paper on stomatopod’s extraordinary ultraviolet vision.  It is based on field work at Lizard Island. Here is Mike’s short (1:19) video on the eye movements of odontodactylus scyllarus a.k.a. Harlequin Mantis Shrimp:

… and his  longer (4:46) video explaining the science

Justin Marshall and his long-term collaborators Tom Cronin and Roy Caldwell have been using the facilities of the Lizard Island Research Station to study stomatopods for over 25 years.  Collectively they have published over 50 papers on stomatopods from Lizard Island.  They are working with Viktor Gruev and Nick Roberts on stomatopod polarisation vision.

Here are two videos showing what a stomatopod can do with the fastest punch on earth: Mantis Shrimp Destroys Clam is quite short (0.49).  Mantis Murder Shrimp is longer (7:0) but worth it to see a tiny kung fu punch smash a test tube to get a crab and how it generates such speed and power.

And to conclude,  a well-camouflaged Mantis Shrimp at the entrance to its burrow in Watson’s Bay, Lizard island

Mantis Shrimps

Lysiosquillina maculata © Mark Shepherd