|Odontodactylus scyllarus by Don
Professional quality pic showing armored backside of an extremely colorful stomatopod photographed in Dinah's Beach, Papua New Guinea in 1996. Note the short carapace that only covers part of the thorax, the stalked protruding eyes, and the massively developed forelimbs held close to the body, which are some of the easy ways to distinguish these animals from similar creatures such as lobsters and large shrimps.
According to Dr. Caldwell, individuals of this commonly encountered species are found from just subtidally (in less than one meter of water) down to at least 40 m. They settle from the plankton at a fairly large size (about 30 mm) and juveniles have a marked yellow body color. Adult females usually have an olive or brownish body color while large males are bright green. These animals build burrows in rubbly substrate and sand, lining the burrow with small pieces of dead coral, shell and rock. The construction is impressive and the pieces are fitted together so carefully that they are very rugged. The burrow is u-shaped and usually not very long or deep - a burrow by a 100 mm animal is usually less than a meter long and 40 cm deep. These animals make numerous foraging trips during the day and night and they also are out and about looking for mates. This is why they are so commonly encountered moving from coral head to coral head. They often like areas with some current, so they are often encountered on drift dives.
Web Site Author: A. Sunjian
Site Created February 3, 1998