Mantis shrimps are marine crustaceans of the order Stomatopoda. They typically grow to around 10 cm in length. The largest mantis shrimp ever caught had a length of 46 cm and was caught in the Indian River near Fort Pierce, Florida, in the United States. A mantis shrimp’s carapace (outer covering) covers only the rear part of the head and the first four segments of the thorax. They are among the most important predators in many shallow, tropical, and sub-tropical marine habitats. However, despite being common, they are poorly understood as many species spend most of their life tucked away in burrows and holes.
Mantis shrimps are called “sea locusts” by ancient Assyrians, “prawn killers” in Australia and now sometimes as “thumb splitters” – because of the animal’s ability to inflict painful gashes if handled incautiously. These animals sport powerful claws that are used to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning, or dismembering. In captivity, some larger species can break through aquarium glass.