Shane Morehead, Staff Writer

Over two million animal species have been documented in our existence, but very few come close to the greatness of the mighty mantis shrimp. I think that they are a serious contender for the greatest animal. A mantis shrimp can see more colors than any person reading this; they have the most complex eyes in the entire animal kingdom. They can see ultraviolet and polarized light. Polarized light reflects off of cancerous and healthy tissue differently, so they can detect cancer more accurately than some medical machines. Spearing mantis shrimp have claws they can use to catch small fish and eat them. I think that’s way cooler than chasing prey like land animals do. They recognize their friends by their smell. When two shrimp mate, they stay with each other until one of their twenty year life spans comes to an end. During mating rituals, they glow. You might be wondering “If they’re so amazing, why have I not seen them in an aquarium?” That’s because the smasher mantis shrimp can punch fifty times faster than the blink of an eye. With a velocity of ten meters per second, their mighty blow has the power of a .22 caliber bullet. My gun knowledge is limited to “pull the trigger, bang bang,” and I know nothing about caliber, but has your cat’s strength ever been compared to a bullet? They can’t contain them in any glass because if they did, the aquarium would be flooded and hundreds of people and marine animals would be all over the place. Tragedy is most commonly associated with fire, but nobody would ever expect the mantis shrimp flood. I can just imagine a shrimp riding on top of a Great White shark, while a giant wave of water erupts from the walls. The natural application for that ability is to smash snail shells and then eat the snail. Mantis shrimps have the most diverse and intriguing beauty of any living thing I’ve seen. The peacock mantis shrimp is RAINBOW COLORED! The zebra mantis shrimp is obviously colored like a zebra. Some are just plain brown. The ancient Assyrians called them “sea locusts.” It’s a delicacy across the Adriatic Sea and all over East Coast Asia. They live all over the world in just about every tropical ocean. Mantis shrimp have the best nicknames like Prawn Killers, Thumb splitters, or Pistol Shrimp. While I think “MEGA SHRIMP” would have been a better name (get creative, scientists), they are a great example of the diversity on our planet, and are definitely my favorite living thing.