The Surprising Mantis Shrimp

So, sometimes when I see something that I want to write about, I’ll open a new blog post, put in a link to that thing, and save my draft so I can come back to it later and expound on the idea. And sometimes, I hit the “Publish” button when I mean to hit the “Save Draft”. So, some people got an unintentional preview to this post.

mantis_shrimp_the_oatmealFor the rest of you, please take a moment and check out this amazing page about the Mantis Shrimp, as presented by The Oatmeal.

Did you read it?


So, now I don’t feel so bad about my color blindness. In comparison to the Mantis Shrimp, we are all terribly colorblind. I mean, sure, a few of my cones are defective so I have trouble differentiating certain shades of red and green (and occasionally blue and purple). But is that anything to the fact that humans see variations of 3 primary colors and the Mantis Shrimp sees variations of 16 primary colors?

That’s 13 primary colors that we can’t even imagine! Not to mention the variations of mixing all those primary colors.

Forget the fact that the Mantis Shrimp is possibly the world’s most frightening killer (a nightmarish mix of an aquatic centipede (arguably the most terrifying bug in existence) with Wolverine from the X-Men). Let’s just focus on their ability to see colors we can’t even imagine.

I’ve mused in the past about the existence of some sixth sense, not like ESP, but another way of experiencing our present world in addition to sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. I mean, can a person born blind really understand what people mean when they say that something is red, or bright, or beautiful to look upon?

So what if there was another sense that humans lack? One that, to us, would be like red to a blind person. I’ve wondered what life would be like if we could be granted that mysterious extra sense.

And now I find out that there is a creature on this planet that already experiences life in a sensory way that humans can’t even hope to experience. I’m kind of jealous.

But maybe I shouldn’t be. After all, those same creatures are terrors that people won’t even risk putting in aquariums because they will kill all of the other fish and then break the glass of the aquarium tank to get out. Maybe I am happier because I don’t experience the world in such detail.

Maybe I’m even luckier because I’m colorblind, and experience less than even most humans do. After all, dogs only see two primary colors and they are usually pretty happy as a species. Did I really just compare myself to a dog as a proof that I am happier than most people? Sure did.

Anyway, have you ever thought about what kind of thing we’d experience with a sixth sense? Share those thoughts in the comments! I’m dreadfully curious (and I need some reassurance that I’m not the only one who thinks of such things).

Thanks for reading!

One thought on “The Surprising Mantis Shrimp

  1. Pingback: “What a wonderful world!” Beauties under water… | My Blog

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