Feeding ecology and diet

Typically, a spearer lies in wait at the entrance of its burrow, body tucked within, raptorial claws tucked beneath, head and eyes out and alert for movements of passing, soft-bodied prey like fish and shrimp. When the right victim comes into a vulnerable range, the spearer will strike out and up at the prey animal in an almost invisibly fast extension, impaling and retracting the armed claws. The victim secured, the stomatopod begins feeding formalities.

Smashers are more likely to roam about, crawling or swimming, as active hunters, depending on mobility, or lack of it, among prey animals, since smashers hunt for creatures with hard exteriors, including shelled mollusks and other crustaceans. A smasher will cripple a crab with multiple punches of the heel to the crab's claws, legs, and carapace, then drag the battered creature to the mantis's burrow to be feasted upon at leisure. Smashers deal with snails and clams by toting them back to the burrow, wedging them against the burrow wall, then punching them into fragments, later casting the shell shards from the burrow.

Mantis shrimps are capable of some of the fastest movements in living nature. A stomatopod strike at a prey animal, including the unfolding motion, can pass in 2 milliseconds. The strike of a praying mantis takes 100 milliseconds, the length of time of one human eye blink. Smashers add enormous force to their strike speed. Two of the larger smasher species, Hemisquilla ensigera and Odontodactylus scyllarus, pack a punch nearly equal to the impact of a .22 caliber bullet, powerful enough to break open the double-layered safety glass of public aquariums, which in fact they have done.

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