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Mantis Shrimp packs a powerful punch

February 5, 2015

Marine experts at Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium are taking no chances with their latest arrival – a trigger-happy peacock mantis shrimp

Dubbed the ‘fastest claw in the South’, the shrimp may only be 12 cms from nose to tail but he’s still capable of landing a devastating knockout blow with the equivalent force of a .22 calibre bullet.

The shrimp uses a specially adapted front claw to literally batter its opponents into submission. Reaching speeds of 75 feet per second, the claw’s striking power is so strong it has been known to shatter safety glass.

In fact the species is so potentially dangerous staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium have ensured his new home features a super-strong acrylic viewing window and that he is fed from a safe distance using metal grabs.

“Mantis shrimps are notorious as among the most aggressive and pugnacious of all marine creatures,” explained Blue Reef’s Leanna Lawson.

“They use their blunt, hammer-like front legs to stun their prey with repeated blows before wedging their battered victims – including crabs, clams and snails – against a solid surface and cracking their shells apart,” she added.

However it’s not just potential prey they’re prepared to pick a fight with. One mantis shrimp was filmed attacking and defeating an over-confident octopus, and several divers have been badly injured after straying too close.

In Australia they’ve earned the nickname ‘prawn killers’ and in the West Indies ‘split toes’ or ‘split thumbs‘!

Scientists have also recently discovered the shrimps have the most sophisticated vision of any creature on the planet. It’s thought they may be able to distinguish up to 100,000 colours – ten times more than the human eye.