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5, Dec, 2016

Peacock Mantis Shrimp – the fastest claw in the West

Posted in Latest News, Marine Life by eileen

Did you know that the Smashing Peacock Mantis Shrimp can smash (hence the name) using its hammer-like claws, at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet? This has earned the colourful crustacean the accolade as the only creature which cannot be kept in an aquarium as it can easily break the glass. Maybe we should enlist Smashing Peacock Mantis Shrimps as stealth weapons in our quest against aquariums – secretly introducing them and watching mayhem ensue…

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp uses its smash to catch food and defend itself. A hard shell is no protection for the occupant if the Peacock Mantis decides crab or clam is on the dinner menu. And if a foolhardy diver points out the Peacock Mantis too closely, that finger could end up as nothing but smashed bone. Even if you used a metal pointer and he smashed it, the reverberations up and through to your arm would be enough to cause a sprained wrist but most likely a broken one.

peacock mantis shrimp


Peacock Mantis Shrimp helps scientific breakthrough

Last year, scientists studying this rainbow-hued wonder managed to mimic the hammer-claws shock absorbing interior to create a new super-strong composite material. This material is now used by the commercial aircraft industry as it demonstrated less denting and greater residual strength after impact than all other composites previously in use.

Other possible applications for this amazing material include athletic helmets (such as for American Football and motor racing) and military body armour. And all this from the tiny Peacock Mantis Shrimp who – with his large googly eyes on stalks and floaty/fluttery running movements – looks just a bit cute and comedy rather than a pioneer of science.

peacock mantis shrimp


Smashing Peacock Mantis Shrimp in Ko Lanta

When diving at our regular dive sites of Ko Haa, Hin Daeng Hin Muang, Ko Rok and Ko Phi Phi, we often see Peacock Mantis Shrimps on at least one dive of the day. Sometimes they are out and about, fluttering along the sandy bottom on their eleven pairs of legs but the minute they notice us, they make for the nearest hole in the rocks.

Here they sit peering out, eyes going round and round in different directions. This is when the diver must take real care not to get too close – the Peacock Mantis Shrimp is on red alert right now and if it feels threatened by our looming presence (or pointing) they will smash us. Hard. Thankfully, no one I know has had such a close encounter with the fastest claw in the West. Sometimes when I’m taking photos of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp, I do get a bit close. If my expensive camera housing suddenly caves in and the contents flooded, I will only have myself to blame.

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