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Stomatopod Images

Photograph by Dr. Roy Caldwell

Face to Face with an Alien: Raoulserenea komai

In July 2001, Dr Roy Caldwell led an underwater “mission” in the Aquarius habitat that was devoted entirely to Stomatopods. The Aquarius is the world’s only operational underwater habitat being used for basic research on marine systems. More information on their exciting research is found in the web site "Secrets of the Stomatopod: an Underwater Research Adventure".

If ever stomatopods were accused of being too "alien", this picture would undoubtedly be Evidence Number 1 for the prosecution. According to Dr. Caldwell there are four or five species in this genus that are closely related to Pseudosquilla. Most are small and are typically found in rock and rubble. A pair of eyespots on the carapace is characteristic of the group. The genus is named for the prominent researcher Raoul Serene, whose sketches and studies of stomatopods in East Asia are renowned to this day.

The different visual areas that characterize the very complex stomatopod compound eye can be clearly seen in this picture, including the "midband" region. A mantis shrimp eye may contain thousands of ommatidia. Each eye is divided into three regions: the dorsal and ventral hemispheres, which view regions of space much like any other compound eye, and a midband region of 6 parallel rows of ommatidia, viewing a strip of space just a few degrees wide. The ommatidia of the upper and lower hemispheres are structurally and functionally similar to those in other crustaceans, but the midband shows features that are unique in the animal kingdom. Functionally, the two hemispheres in a SINGLE eye give a mantis shrimp monochromatic vision and enhances its depth perception, while the midband region is responsible for color vision, as well as the ability to see polarized light.

Mantis shrimp have stereo vision with just one eye, and they can see ultra-violet , infra-red, and polarized light. They have up to 16 visual pigments in contrast to the red, blue, and yellow pigments found in human eyes.

Web Site Author: A. San Juan
Site Created February 3, 1998
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