Fast Facts: Peacock Mantis Shrimp

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Don’t let looks fool you—these beautiful crustaceans are ferocious undersea predators that hunt with clubbed forelimbs, walloping their quarry with one of the strongest pound-for-pound punches on the planet.

Mantis shrimp come in many different colors, and with different armaments.  Wikimedia Commons/Roy L. Caldwell, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley.

Mantis shrimp come in many different colors, and with different armaments. 

Wikimedia Commons/Roy L. Caldwell, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley.


  • The mantis shrimp can punch with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet—strong enough to break the shells of its prey, as well as aquarium glass.
  • When a mantis shrimp hits its target, the velocity causes water to vaporize, then implode with a sharp bang, extremely high heat, and a flash of light—all of which is felt by the prey animal as an additional blow. 
  • When the striking limb of a mantis shrimp is not in use, it lies folded under the animal’s body, compressing a saddle-shaped spring that drives the animals stupendous strikes. 
  • Some species of mantis shrimp wield spear like limbs that can impale their targets, instead of club-like limbs for bashing them. 
  • Their super-strong punches aren’t the only notable thing about the mantis shrimp. The animal’s eyes can see a huge variety of light wavelengths, including those in the ultraviolet spectrum. 

You can see live mantis shrimp on display in Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species, opening this weekend.