I guess this means my study animal is mainstream now?

Mantis shrimp have always been the coolest animal in the universe (don’t bother arguing this point), but now everyone finally seems to be aware of this fact.

All it took was being feature by one of my favorite webcomics, The Oatmeal.

This is a great piece of pop-science art. Sure it is rife with misconceptions, but it has also driven interest in these animals through the roof. Google search traffic for “mantis shrimp” is at an all time high, and traffic to my blog has spiked quite a bit as a result. Hopefully all this interest will lead some people to learn more about the Worlds Best Animal (TM).

Thanks Oatmeal.

Here are a couple of my favorite bits from the comic:

This is poetry.

This is poetry.

Sure, we have no idea if this is true, but it's a fun analogy.

Sure, we have no idea if this is true, but it’s a fun analogy.

I now have a response for when my aging relatives ask me what the practical application of my research is.

I now have a response for when my aging relatives ask me what the practical application of my research is.


  1. Jules Bristow April 11, 2013 4:34 pm Reply

    What are the misconceptions out of interest?


    • Michael Bok April 11, 2013 5:16 pm Reply

      The big one is that the extra spectral classes of receptors allow them to see 13 colors that we cannot. While it is true that their six UV and and one near infrared receptors are sensitive to wavelengths of light that we cannot see, the other nine receptors overlap our spectral range. We do not know if this actually confers greater spectral acuity to the shrimp in that range, because we don’t know how information in those receptors is processed in the brain. In humans, we don’t see only three colors; our brains process and compare relative stimulation of each overlapping cone type, and allow us to see perceive thousands of colors. If mantis shrimp had the same complexity of downstream processing as us, their 9 receptors in this region would confer them with insane levels of spectral acuity. However, it is highly unlikely that they have anywhere near that processing power. So they could be worse at color vision in this range than us. Research is ongoing on this topic.

  2. Nan April 16, 2013 12:18 am Reply

    Indeed, your blog was the first to educate me about mantis shrimp. So when I first saw a bunch of grad students posting around the link on various social media platforms, I instantly thought of this blog. Cheers!


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