Lysiosquillina maculata (J. C. Fabricius, 1793) — Overview

Zebra Mantis Shrimp learn more about names for this taxon

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The Zebra or Striped Mantis Shrimp is the largest of the mantis shrimp. While commonly called a shrimp they are not actually Decapods but are a separate order, Stomatopoda (Class Malacostraca). Mantis Shrimp are large, colorful predatory crustaceans with a similar general body shape to lobster. They are found from East Africa to the Galapagos and Hawaiian Islands (Caldwell 2005). Within this range their habitat includes mud, sand and sandy reef flats from low intertidal zones to about 10 meters (Caldwell 2005). Zebra Mantis Shrimp live in large u-shaped burrows (up to 10 meters long) reinforced with mucus to bind the sand (Caldwell 2005). Males and females form monogamous pairs and share the same burrow. The pair rarely leaves their burrow. The female cares for young in the burrow and only the male hunts (Sunjian 1998). The males hunt using spiny appendages, known as raptorial dactyls, which closely resemble the forelegs of preying mantis. These raptorial dactyls are folded appendages with barbed tips, used to spear prey.

Zebra Mantis Shrimp can reach a length of 40 cm, making them the largest mantis shrimp (Caldwell 2005). Aside from their size, they can be distinguished by their transverse stripes across their entire body. These range from cream to dark brown with alternating tan stripes. Zebra Mantis Shrimp have bilobed compound eyes covered with white spots. Their antennal scale has a dark patch in the center. Each of their raptorial dactyls contains 10-11 teeth for grasping prey. This species is sexually dimorphic, with males having larger eyes and raptorial appendages. Sexually mature females can also be distinguished by their visible pink ovaries that run the length of the thorax and abdomen (Caldwell 2005). The newly hatched larvae do not yet have claws but live in the burrow while they develop. Zebra Mantis Shrimp are lecithotrophic, so they have stored yolk to feed on as larvae (Young 2006).

The Zebra Mantis Shrimps diet includes fish, shrimp and crabs (Caldwell 2005). Unlike other mantis shrimp, that smash their prey with club-like raptorial appendages, the Zebra Mantis Shrimp spears its prey using modified spear-like raptorial appendages that contain "teeth" to secure their prey. Other mantis shrimp use their clubs to smash open the shells of sedentary invertebrates, but the Zebra Mantis Shrimp is an ambush predator (Reshanov 2012). They hide quietly in their burrows until their prey passes by, and then pounce and spear their soft, fast-moving prey when it is within striking distance (Reshanov 2012). Zebra Mantis Shrimp can approach their prey at 2.3 meters per second (Young 2012). While fast enough to strike the small fish and invertebrates that constitute its diet, its speed is up to ten times slower than some of the mantis shrimps that are "smashers". This is likely a tradeoff for a more accurate strike.

One of the most impressive features of the Zebra Mantis Shrimp are their specialized eyes that can pick up several types of light, including infared and ultraviolet. Their eyes consist of six rows of numerous smaller eyes called ommatidia, four of which hold 16 different types of photoreceptor pigments. Humans by comparison only have four photoreceptor pigments. Twelve of these pigments are for color sensitivity and the others for color filtering. Together this gives them some of the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom (Marshall & Oberwinkler 1999).


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