Animal Updates - May 17

Published May 17, 2013

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we're bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what's going on... here's what's new this week!

Peacock Mantis Shrimp

We have a peacock mantis shrimp on exhibit!

peacock mantis shrimp

This colorful Indo-Pacific crustacean may look harmless, but it can pack a fatal punch. Also known as "sea locusts," these marine crustaceans can grow to be up to a foot in length. While most crustaceans are opportunistic feeders, the mantis shrimp will actively hunt its prey.

 Here are 10 AWESOME facts about the mantis shrimp: 

  1. They have 16, count 'em 16, color receptive rods in each eye, which allows them to see circularly polarized light.
  2. The mantis shrimp has two club-shaped appendages that it punches out with (at an estimated speed of up to 50 mph) to break into hard-shelled mollusks.
  3. They have the fastest recorded "punch" of any living animal - it's faster than a .22-caliber bullet.
  4. In fact, they move so fast that the water surrounding their appendages will boil in a process known as supercavitation.
  5. Using its appendages, the mantis shrimp can break through glass without causing any harm to itself.
  6. They can punch out at maximum force approximately 50,000 times between molts without causing any bodily harm.
  7. Engineers are studying mantis shrimp exoskeletons to hopefully build more effective armor for soldiers and protect athletes from concussions, among other uses.
  8. Watch a mantis shrimp break through glass to attack live prey.
  9. Some mantis shrimp mate for life - according to the BBC, one pair was observed staying together for over 20 years.
  10. We can trace the evolutionary lineage of mantis shrimp back 500 million years.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

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