The mantis shrimp

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The mantis shrimp

Every month Jelle Hoogenboom presents an 'Anonymous Animal'. An unknown creature that also deserves a place in company logos, animation movies and our hearts. Today a brief introduction to the mantis shrimp.

If you ever participate in a boxing match, pray that your opponent won't be a mantis shrimp. This colourful crustacean may not be large, but it packs a powerful double punch.

Its club like appendages strike with the power of a .22 caliber bullet, so fast you can only capture it with the best high-speed cameras. At this speed the water vaporizes, creating a cavitation bubble filled with energy. Within a few milliseconds this bubble implodes, causing a tiny but hot shockwave, bursting with light. The double impact of club and bubble is strong enough to break a clam shell. Larger species can even crack aquarium glass!

The creature also has a poetic side. As humans, we only have three types of cones in our eyes: red, green and blue. When we see yellow, we actually see a combination of red and green. The mantis shrimp on the other hand, can see twelve different colours. This fact made some, like the brilliant Oatmeal, fantasize that its life must be one big acid trip. In reality, it probably has this many cones so its tiny brain doesn't have to be bothered with that pesky combining of colors. But still, it can see colours we can't, from infrared through ultraviolet.

Yep, the mantis shrimp is master of colour vision and undefeated atom weight champion. It's a miracle Marvel hasn't named a super villain after it yet.

Illustration: TankedStudio