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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Smokestack Lightning

Mantis shrimp are amazing creatures. They can strike prey as fast as 330 metres a second, but some other mantis shrimp use a stabbing technique to kill.

The little critters hide their body up to their eyes in the sand as they wait for a fish to swim by. When a fish gets close, the mantis shrimp shoots its body out of the sand, impales the fish with serrated blades, and then drags the fish back into the sand with it. All this happens in a matter of seconds, so it’s almost like the fish just disappeared.

With eyes that have six pseudopupils and 12 color receptors, they have exceptional vision compared to us. We only have two pupils and 3 color receptors. But beyond that, what’s really impressive is their ability to see polarization. Scientists have found that some mantis shrimp species use circular polarization to communicate with each other on a kind of secret visual channel for mating and territorial purposes.