Stomatopod Images

Aglow with life Peacock Mantis shrimp.
Photograph by Reinhard Dirscherl

Aglow with life: Peacock Mantis shrimp

Peacock mantis shrimps (Odontodactylus sp) are absolutely beautiful creatures whose raptorial strikes are so powerful that they have not evolved the heavy telsons (tail-ends) characteristics of smaller smashers like Gonodactylus sp. In these smaller mantis shrimps, individuals engage in ritualistic fighting for territory where one individual in turn strikes the heavily armored telson of the other (who curls up with tail faced forward). Odontodactylus species have the thinner telsons that are more characteristic of spearer mantis shrimps. The possibility that their strikes could cause mortal damage even in ritualistic encounters are so high that Peacock mantis have done away with this usual smasher behavior (and the need for the heavy telson armor).

This pic also makes me think of the description of stomatopods by Fred Saberhagen in his science fiction short story "Smasher":

"The follower was aglow with life, gold marked in detail with red and green and brown, like banners carried forward above an advancing column. Long antennae waved as if for balance above bulbous, short-stalked eyes. And underneath the eyes a coil of heavy forelimbs rested..."

The photographer notes that this photograph was made in Papua New Guinea. Visit his website for more underwater photos!

Web Site Author: A. Sunjian
Site Created February 3, 1998
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