The mantis shrimp is not actually a shrimp, but a different kind of crustacean of the order Stomatopoda, known for its aggressiveness and formidable weaponry. It possesses extremely sharp, powerful claws that can split a human finger in two, with larger species of mantis shrimp able to break aquarium glass with a single strike! Mantis shrimp are voracious predators found in tropical and sub-tropical waters.
But while the mantis shrimp’s claws understandably get much of the attention, their strength and capacity to cause damage at least fall within the realm of things we can perceive. We can see an injured thumb or shattered glass and understand what it means, but with their extraordinary eyes, the mantis shrimp may be capable of seeing colors we can’t even imagine!
Their compound eyes have 16 color receptive cones (compared to the 3 found in humans), and are capable of perceiving polarized light and multispectral images. Each eye is divided into three regions, giving each eye trinocular vision, meaning that even missing an eye, a mantis shrimp still has depth perception. And as if that isn’t enough, researchers recently discovered that mantis shrimp eyes can even see neurons firing and detect the reflections off of cancer cells!