How dangerous are the strikes of common mantis shrimps to humans?
I handle stomatopods every day in our lab and when I’m in the field it is not uncommon to measure and sex 150 animals in an evening. Needless to say, I’m struck fairly often. Some species are far worse than others, but it usually hurts. Even a 2 cm Gonodactylus can draw blood and a 4 cm animal can drive the dactyl tips to the bone…But that is nothing compared to what happen to a diver from South Africa who wrote me a few years ago describing his attempt to grab by hand an 18 cm Odontodactylus. The animal severely injured his finger which became infected by a chiton-digesting bacteria. The infection did not respond to the usual antibiotics. In the end, they amputated the finger. Be careful out there!
It is taking all my restraint not to post this entire comic. But I want you to visit The Oatmeal and experience all its riches, so: Why The Mantis Shrimp Is My New Favorite Animal.
If you haven’t clicked through yet, let me add a little incentive: a later panel of this comic contains the line “The mantis shrimp is the harbinger of blood-soaked rainbows.”
And if you would like to know even MORE about these miraculous creatures, we have a Radiolab episode for you, complete with a Mantis Shrimp choir.
Peacock Mantis Shrimp
Everyone’s favorite crustacean!