While fishing off the coast of Fort Pierce, Florida, Steve Bargeron saw a couple nearby pull up an oversized shrimp-like specimen that he jokingly called an "alien creature" that was wildly flopping its tail. After snapping some photos, one of which is shown here, the fisherman threw the creature back into the water. [Read full story]
Huge Florida Mantis Shrimp
That "alien creature" is actually a type of mantis shrimp, probably a species Lysiosquilla, according to Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. And like other Lysiosquilla species, this one showed off three pairs of walking legs and a large, articulated abdomen, Caldwell said. [Read full story]
Huge Mantis Shrimp Caught
Though Bargeron estimated the beastly shrimp caught off Florida was a whopping 18 inches (46 cm) long, species of Lysiosquilla typically only grow to about a foot long, Caldwell said, adding that he doubted the catch really reached that size. Bargeron noted he didn't have a measuring tape to record the size of the catch. [Read full story]
Mantis Shrimp Spearer
Mantis shrimp are considered stomatopods, which can be identified by their prominent claws, which are used for various functions, for instance, to stab or smash prey. Here, an image showing a mantis shrimp's spine-covered leg, or "spearer," which it uses to stab prey.
Mantis shrimp are crustaceans that are typically found in shallow tropical and sub-tropical habitats. These creatures can be colorful, ranging from brownish hues to neon colors.
Mantis Shrimp Close-up
Mantis shrimp live in burrows on the seafloor and rarely come out, with some females never leaving such hideouts, Caldwell said. Here, a male mantis shrimp.
Largest Mantis Shrimp
The distinction for the largest stomatopod species goes to Lysiosquillina maculata (shown here), a mantis shrimp that lives in the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to east Africa. The largest individuals in this species can grow to a whopping 15 inches (40 cm) long.
Here, a juvenile peacock mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, showing off its googley eyes and hammerlike claw that can smash prey with the acceleration of a 0.22-caliber bullet. This species sports 12 different types of photoreceptors when four to seven are all that is needed.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.