Who has the most incredible and advanced eyes in the animal kingdom …… the answer is the Mantis shrimp !!
Many of you will have noticed these large shrimps scurrying around on the reef or poking their heads out of holes and burrows in the rubble on the sea bed. There are 400 different species of mantis Shrimp and they come in an amazing variety of colours, the two distinct types of mantis shrimp are the ‘Smasher’ and the ‘Spearer’ depending on their method of hunting and defense. The Smasher has the capability to break a camera lens, aquarium glass or worse fingers if you get to close !! The Spearer has a pair of deadly barbed harpoons and is an ambush predator.
You can tell the Smasher and the Spearer apart from the shape of their eyes…..the Smasher has round eyes and the Spearer has oblong eyes. Mantis shrimp eyesight is so advanced it is considered to be the most elaborate visual system ever discovered and the most complex vision in the entire animal kingdom.
Mantis shrimp eyes are mounted on stalks and can move independently of each other, out of the 6 rows of receptors on each eye four of the rows carry up to 16 different photo receptor pigments, 12 for colour sensitivity ( humans only have 3 !! ) and others for colour filtering. The vision of the mantis shrimp is so precise that it can perceive both polarized and ultraviolet light and multi spectral images. Each eye also has the ability to process three different sets of information at the same time, this configuration enables mantis shrimp to see objects with three parts of the same eye, in other words, each eye possesses trinocular vision and depth perception !!
This incredible eyesight is necessary for the mantis shrimp as the speed of its smashing or spearing attack is so fast that it needs such advanced vision to calculate the shape and range of the prey item accurately. The strike is launched at a speed of 102,000 m/s2 which generates a shock wave in the same way as a bullet so even if the initial strike misses the prey, the resulting shock wave can be enough to stun or even still kill the prey !!
These fantastic creatures definitely deserve more respect so watch your fingers if you’re trying to catch one to smother in Marie Rose sauce !!!