Stomatopods (mantis shrimps) are colourful marine crustaceans that live in reef environments as well as other less tropical and more muddy-bottom habitats.

Check out new Deep Look YouTube video of how stomatopods are changing our lives

They possess the most complex colour and polarisation vision system of any animal on the planet, in some ways far exceeding the visual capabilities of humans. This is a group that the Marshall laboratory has worked on for over 25 years, starting with the discovery of the remarkable complexity of stomatopod vision, with Tom Cronin, back in the late 80s.

tomatopod eyes contain up to 20 different functional input channels. These include 12 colour receptors (humans have only 3), 6 for linear polarisation (including a specialised UV polarisation channel) and 2 for circular polarization. Through an integrative whole-systems approach based on anatomy, physiology, ecology, behaviour, neural integration and advanced imagining, we hope to understand how and what these animals see, and how these animals process this complex information. This knowledge will help us determine how stomatopods use both colour and polarization to communicate and make decisions within their environment.  We are already using this information in the bio-inspired design of optics and camera sensors.

Current projects with stomatopods include:

  • Polarisation vision and communication
  • Colour vision and communication

See our publications page for the following key publications:

  • Marshall et al 2014, Phil. Trans R Soc
  • Thoen et al 2014, Science
  • Cronin et al 2014, Phil. Trans R Soc