Online exhibits : Special exhibits : Secrets of the Stomatopod

Secrets of the Stomatopod: An Underwater Research Adventure

Stomatopod Behavior: What DO you do?

Differences in the raptorial appendages have led to different behaviors. Spearers that dig burrows in soft substrates tend not to be highly aggressive in defending those burrows—they would rather dig a new burrow than fight over the old one.

In contrast, smashers are more likely to be found in pre-existing burrows in hard substrates. Such burrows are often in short supply and stomatopods must compete aggressively for them. Their lethal raptorial appendages provide effective weapons for acquiring and defending these homes.

With the evolution of such potent weapons comes the development of sophisticated communication and sensory systems to provide information about similarly armed opponents. Stomatopods are capable of learning a variety of everyday tasks from what size prey can be opened most efficiently to what route to take to get back to their burrow.

Two stomatopods

Two stomatopods eye each other before fighting for the cavity in the rock.

Stomatopod threat display

One of the stomatopods collected during the mission giving a threat display