23 March 2017

Through the eyes of a peacock mantis shrimp



Odontodactylus scyllarus (peacock mantis shrimp) is neither a peacock, mantis nor shrimp but a different kind of crustacean which resembles all, regardless of its common name. It is famous for its greatly enlarged hammer-like second raptorial appendage which it uses to smash its prey and defend itself against predators, both in high speeds and with a crushing force [1].

Photo taken in Taiwan by Tim-Yan Chan.

Another great feature of this species is its eyes, which are more advanced than those in humans or in any other species. Its stalked eyes have trinocular vision, depth perception, and can move independently of each other. If humans have 4 different photoreceptors with 3 color channels which allow them to see linearly polarized light, the peacock mantis shrimp has 16 photoreceptors with 12 color channels that allow it to see both linearly and circularly (3D) polarized lights, scientifically called hyperspectral vision [2].

Photo by Steve De Neef.

With this knowledge humans have now developed new ideas that will improve the high-definition capacity of DVDs and CDs by adapting the quarter-wave plates of the mantis shrimp [3].

To know more about the peacock mantis shrimp and other crustaceans, visit SeaLifeBase.

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[1] Patek, S.N., & R.L. Caldwell. 2005. Extreme impact and cavitation forces of a biological hammer: strike forces of the peacock mantis shrimp Odontodactylus scyllarusThe Journal of Experimental Biology 208(Pt 19):3655–3664.
[2] Chiou, T., S. Kleinlogel, T. Cronin, R. Caldwell, B. Loeffler, A. Siddiqi, A. Goldizen, and J. Marshall. 2008. Circular polarization vision in a stomatopod crustacean. Current Biology 18:429-434.
[3] Roberts, N.W., T. Chiou, N.J. Marshall, and T.W. Cronin. 2009. A biological quarter-wave retarder with excellent achromaticity in the visible wavelength region. Nature Photonics 3:641-644.


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