A stomatopod (Ontodactylus scyllarus) [1].

Stomatopods are a member of the crustaceans most easily recognized (and well known) for their large "claw", actually a modified leg, which they are able to extend at speed of up to 23 m/s [14].  It is from this claw that they get their common name of Mantis Shrimp, for a superficial resemblance to the praying mantis.  They grow to be up to 350 mm long, and hen not actively reproducing, they are, in general, highly territorial, living in holes in a reef or small burrows in the mud in 100m or less of water.  Stomatopods are divided into "smashers", which have large, club-like. appendages for breaking into clams and other crustaceans, and "spearers", which have more pointed appendages used to spear fish [8].  In the face of all this violence, reproduction (which by necessity requires two individuals to be in close proximity for an extended period of time), seems almost like an impossibility.  Yet the stomatopods seem to manage.  Join us as we explore the mechanisms by which these fascinating creatures are able to reproduce, what value these behaviors have, how they develop over an individual's lifetime, and the evolutionary history of these behaviors. 


© 2012 Brendan Kohrn, Reed College