Peacock Mantis Shrimp — He’s Baaaaack!
Tiny, deadly and gorgeous. That’s the peacock mantis shrimp, and we just placed one on exhibit in our Splash Zone galleries.
You’ll have to work a bit to see it. It’s housed — alone — in a small aquarium inside the Coral Crawl tunnel in Splash Zone. But it’s well worth the effort!
This is the first time we’ve hosted a mantis shrimp since 2001 when one of them stowed away inside some coral rock and earned us international headlines and live CNN coverage. (There’s something compelling about a “killer shrimp” terrorizing other animals in the children’s area of an internationally known aquarium.)
They pack quite a punch
Since then, we’ve been wary of deliberately introducing a mantis shrimp — and for good reason. Aquarists and scuba divers refer to them as “thumb-splitters” because their claws pack a punch as powerful as a .22-caliber bullet.
Those same claws can shatter a clam shell, and crack open a crab or shatter glass. They can bring down a blue-ringed octopus or a fish. The claws are made of a material so hard it can deliver 50,000 blows between molts - without breaking. It’s being studied by scientists as a model for crafting super-strong body armor for soldiers.
And it moves its claws so fast that they turn water into plasma and sound into light.
“A thermonuclear bomb of light and beauty”
But that’s not the end of the story, as celebrated cartoonist Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal explains in his online love-letter, “Why the mantis shrimp is my new favorite animal.”
He starts by examining the eyes that make them unbelievably effective hunters. Their vision is so sensitive that a mantis shrimp can see in both infrared and ultraviolet spectra, and uses 16 color receptor cones (compared to just three for humans).
Inman observes: “Where we see a rainbow, the mantis shrimp sees a thermonuclear bomb of light and beauty.”
It’s that combination of experiencing a world of transcendent beauty — and then turning around and pounding its prey to smithereens — that fascinates Matthew Inman.
We hope you’ll be fascinated, too, at the chance to see a peacock mantis shrimp face to face — on the other side of shatterproof acrylic.
Recently I’ve come across some official Merida images for the Disney Princess lineup . Currently looks like she’ll get the same sparkle treatment as the others with added off-the-shoulder dress and some mascara. Another sexed-up Disney princess then. Mhmm.
They’re sort of a guilty pleasure though, as an adult I can’t help but enjoy and draw pictures of beautiful people since you know, there’s that whole psychological thing that seeing sexy people makes you feel sexy too (and it really doesn’t matter if they are imaginary princesses or tabloid celebrities because in a way they’re all on that same fantasy Hollywood plane, I’m as likely ever to meet Angelina Jolie as Merida) and on other hand the mum in me is screaming that there is no bloody way I will ever buy any of that merchandise to my kids because they don’t need any more appearance-obsessed pressures added to their future angsty teenage years. /headdesk
Watercolour and brush pen sketch.
There are kind Slytherins.
There are brave Hufflepuffs.
There are some stupid Ravenclaws.
There are twisted Gryffindors.
Your House doesn’t define you.
And please, the next time you’re about to tease someone for being a lowly Hufflepuff, or a slimy Slytherin, or a stuck up Ravenclaw or even a foolish Gryffindor, just remember that we are all Hogwarts students. We’re all part of the magic.