Peacock mantis shrimp

Peacock mantis shrimp are feisty little creatures best known for hammer-like appendages that help them dismember their enemies punch by punch. But after spawning, the mantis shrimp utilize their mitts for a more peaceful purpose: hauling a giant sack of eggs everywhere they go.

The anti-social creatures spend much of their hiding under rocks, so it isn’t easy to spot one in the wild. But that didn’t stop Italian photographer Filippo Borghi from nabbing this fantastic portrait while diving in Indonesia. The 5-inch crustacean protectively clutches a monstrous ball of eggs, its bulging alien eyes defiantly staring down the camera.

“I don’t know why this one wasn’t shy,” he says. “Maybe it was curious about the light of my strobe, or maybe it liked seeing itself in the mirror in my lens.”

Peacock mantis shrimp get their name from the brilliant shades of red, green and blue speckling their exoskeletons. They dine on mollusks, small fish and other bottom-dwellers in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These unusually intelligent arthropods live up to six years and mate for life. The male injects his sperm into the female, and she releases it with a clutch of eggs held together by a special glue, which she carries around on her thorax for an average of 40 days before they hatch. Sometimes, she even unloads a second clutch of eggs off on the dad. Source – Wired

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