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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Peacock Mantis Shrimp Odontodactylus scyallarus

A relative of shrimp and lobsters, the brightly colored peacock mantis shrimp is a voracious predator. Its large, mobile, compound eyes have sophisticated stereoscopic and color vision that includes some ultraviolet shades. It uses sight when hunting, waiting quietly, like the praying mantis, for its unsuspecting prey to come within reach, then striking using its powerful, clublike second pair of legs with immense speed—about 75 mph (120 km/h)—and force (up 100 times its own weight). Such power is created by a special, saddlelike hinge-joint in these legs, which acts like a spring. The peacock mantis shrimp can smash the shells of gastropods and crabs and tackles prey larger than itself. It excavates U-shaped burrows or makes crevices in rocks or coral to live in. After hatching, its larvae enter the plankton, where they develop over a few weeks before drifting down toward the sea floor to make their own burrows.

Peacock Mantis Shrimpzoom image
  • Subphylum Crustacea
  • Length Up to 6 in (15 cm)
  • Habitat Warm water near reefs with sandy, gravelly, or shelly bottoms
  • Distribution Indian and Pacific oceans
Peacock Mantis Shrimp habitat mapzoom image