Mantis shrimp have quickly become a creature championed on the internet due to the revelation of its optical superpowers. The mantis shrimp is able to see over 100,000 colors and also is able to see what is known as circularly polarized light – a capability that no other creature can do.
Mantis shrimp live in the reefs and are marine crustaceans that can trace their ancestry back by over 500 million years. They are actually so biologically unique that scientists like to refer to them as the Shrimp from Mars – because no other species exists like them. For starters, they have the most complicated eyes in the animal kingdom and can see ten times more colors than humans.
This optical wizardry allows them to see a special type of light also, circularly polarized light known as CPL, which even the best sensors in the world can only view a few colors in CPL. They are able to achieve this as their eye cells are actually able to rotate the photons of light that come through and convert them into a straightforward pattern. In fact, the mantis shrimp’s eyes are so complex and precise that they far advance any current machinery or specialist optical equipment.
And there is more, their carapace has been used to research and design high-tech body armor that remains lightweight. This body armor is so good it actually flattens bullets. Of course, the mantis shrimp requires its protection because of its extreme appetite for violence.
They are known to terrorize aquariums, smashing through any barnacles, snails or hermit crabs that share the tank with them. And they smash them up so bad it just looks like its a game for the mantis shrimp. One aquarist forum, Nano-Reef, recommends you never put two mantis shrimp in a tank together as they will eventually end up dueling & fighting until only one is left standing. Their fists are shaped like mini wrecking balls and they can move them at around 50 mph.
If having all these capabilities wasn’t enough, mantis shrimp also look stunning and regularly look like a complete rainbow of colors.