Fast Facts: Peacock Mantis Shrimp main content.

Fast Facts: Peacock Mantis Shrimp

by AMNH on

On Exhibit posts

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
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.