Found in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the peacock mantis shrimp is arguably one of the most captivating creatures in the sea. Its hard-shelled body is bursting with color—hues of bright red, green, orange and blue, and its forearms are covered in spots. At the top of its head rests a set of protruding eyes, and they aren’t just for show.
These crustaceans have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom, containing millions of light-sensitive cells. With 16 color-receptive cones (compared to humans, who have just three), the peacock mantis shrimp can detect ten times more color than a human, including ultraviolet light. It can move each eye independently and uses this exceptional eyesight to avoid predators and track down prey.
The peacock mantis shrimp lives in the crevices of coral and rocks on the ocean floor. A territorial creature, it has been known to exhibit aggressive behavior toward intruders. This ferocious shrimp has club-like appendages that fold beneath its body, resembling a praying mantis.
With a spring-like motion, it uses these appendages to attack prey—and a mantis shrimp’s punch is no joke. With the ability to strike at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet (50 times faster than the blink of an eye), a blow from a mantis shrimp can easily break through the shell of a crab or mollusk. In addition, it strikes so fast that it literally causes the water in front of the appendage to boil.