Odontodactylus brevirostris

Geographic Range

Shortnose mantis shrimp are found in marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific, including Hawaii and the Philippines, as well as the eastern Pacific Ocean, along the coasts of southwestern North America and Central America. They are also found in the western Atlantic Ocean, along the southeastern coast of the United States, in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, as well as along the eastern coasts of Central America and South America, to Brazil. (Humann and DeLoach, 2010; Reaka and Manning, 1987; "Odontodactylus brevirostris (Miers, 1884)", 2012)


Shortnose mantis shrimp are typically found at depths less than 100 m, but may be found at depths from 40-424 m. Adults are benthic and prefer soft substrates, such as sand (fine or coarse) or mud. When living in coral reef environments, these mantis shrimp often occupy coral rock crevices. They tend to prefer water temperatures of 23–28°C. Larvae are pelagic. (Caldwell, 2005; Cronin, et al., 1994a; Cronin, et al., 1994b; Militante, 2010; "Odontodactylus brevirostris (Miers, 1884)", 2012)

  • Range depth
    10 to 424 m
    32.81 to 1391.08 ft

Physical Description

Shortnose mantis shrimp have elongate, flattened, lobster-like bodies, with three pairs of walking legs, a very short carapace, and a long, flattened tail. Average length is 25-70 mm. A pair of large, stalked, globular-shaped compound eyes are present on the head. The eyes have false pseudopupils. As a type of mantis shrimp, individuals of this species possess a specialized set of first appendages known as raptorial appendages. These appendages are multi-jointed and resemble praying mantis claws. Shortnose mantis shrimp have smasher-type appendages, comprised of hard, calcified heels at the base of the dactyl and sharp teeth on the inner margin. The raptorial appendages are red and white banded, and are held under the sides of the carapace when not in use for striking. Body color is mottled brown; uropods (appendages on the last body segment, flanking the telson) are pink. Thoracic and abdominal body segments are smooth, with no longitudinal indentations; this excludes the telson, which has three such indentations. (Caldwell, 2005; Humann and DeLoach, 2010; Manning, 1967)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    25 to 70 mm
    0.98 to 2.76 in


Shortnose mantis shrimp pass through a pelagic juvenile stage and instars (molts) during development, before completing metamorphosis into adults. However, not much else is known about the developmental processes of this species specifically. Assuming that their life cycle is similar to that of other members of the order Stomatopoda (Mantis shrimps), they undergo a growth and development period of about three months between hatchling and adult stages. Shortnose mantis shrimp larvae likely have narrow, elongated, translucent bodies, which resemble the adult body plan in simplified form, as is the case in their close relatives, Harpiosquilla species of mantis shrimp. Postlarvae of shortnose mantis shrimp are relatively large (13-27 mm. Larvae generally do not disperse widely, although they do complete diurnal vertical migrations. (Fitzgerald, 2004; Veena and Kaladharan, 2010)


Little is known about the specific mating system of shortnose mantis shrimp. Generally speaking, however, stomatopods have separate sexes, with internal fertilization occurring between a male-female pair. Mating systems range from monogamous to promiscuous, depending upon the species, with no system having been definitively attributed to shortnose mantis shrimp. In closely related Haptosquilla species of mantis shrimp, males search for females and courtship can be quite lengthy (up to 30 minutes). In these species, females typically prefer smaller males, and males leave immediately following copulation. (Mead and Caldwell, 2011; San Juan, 1998)

Little is known of the reproductive cycle or behaviors of shortnose mantis shrimp. However, stomatopods generally utilize a system of delayed fertilization, wherein females store sperm in specialized seminal vesicles after copulation and subsequently use this sperm to fertilize eggs externally, releasing eggs and sperm together. The fertilized eggs create an egg mass that is held together by an adhesive released by glands on the female's thorax. The mass is carried by the female, who also cleans and aerates the eggs until they hatch. (Mead and Caldwell, 2011; San Juan, 1998)

  • Breeding interval
    It is unknown how often shortnose mantis shrimp breed.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season is unknown for this species.

Little is known of the parental care behaviors of this species, specifically. However, stomatopods generally guard fertilized eggs until they hatch. Females invest energy by yolking eggs and protecting, cleaning, and aerating them until they hatch; they typically do not eat while carrying egg masses. (Fitzgerald, 2004; Mead and Caldwell, 2011; San Juan, 1998)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female


There is currently no information available on the longevity of this species. Other Odontodactylus species, such as peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) are known to live at least 3-4 years in captivity and are suspected to live at least 5-6 years in the wild. (Sunjian, 1998)


Shortnose mantis shrimp are highly active during daytime and twilight hours. They build and occupy simple U-shaped burrows. They are territorial and will defend their burrows from intruders by giving a threat display or by attacking with their powerful raptorial appendages. Shortnose mantis shrimp attack by extending their raptorial appendages in high-speed strikes, making contact with the dactyl's dense, calcified heel to deliver powerful, shell-smashing strikes to predators and prey. These strikes are extremely fast; strikes of peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus), which are also smashers, can reach speeds of 23 m/s (similar to the speed of a .22 caliber bullet). The speed and force of the initial strike is so great (up to 1,500 Newtons) that a secondary blow is created by a cavitation bubble. This bubble may stun or kill a prey item as well. To give threat displays, these mantis shrimp raise their raptorial appendages and keep them held open to expose a colored spot. Little is known of the behavior of shortnose mantis shrimp larvae specifically, but larvae of most mantis shrimp make vertical migrations throughout the water column, spending daytime hours near the bottom and darker time periods nearer to the water surface. (Caldwell, 2005; Cronin, et al., 1994b; Humann and DeLoach, 2010; Krebs and Davies, 1993; Patek and Caldwell, 2005; Reaka and Manning, 1987; Reaka, 1981; Sunjian, 1998)

Home Range

Shortnose mantis shrimp defend their burrows as described above. Burrows are quite small, not much larger than the animal itself. (Caldwell, 2005)

Communication and Perception

Little research has been completed regarding the communication and perception abilities of shortnose mantis shrimp, specifically. However, it is known that stomatopods can recognize one another using chemical cues. Their chemosensory abilities are highly developed, allowing them to recognize previous mates and opponents, even from a distance. Some stomatopods have also been observed intentionally sending chemical signals by whirling their maxillipeds, propelling chemical deposits away from their bodies. The eyes of this species are also noteable for their superior spectral range (ability to analyze many different wavelengths of light), in addition to the ability to process polarized light. (Cronin, et al., 1994b; Marshall, et al., 2007; Mead and Caldwell, 2011)

Food Habits

Shortnose mantis shrimp are generalists, feeding on small crustaceans and gastropods that are accessible in their benthic environment. Their raptorial appendages allow them to feed on hard bodied animals such as crabs, clams, lobsters, and snails. (Caldwell, 2005; Sunjian, 1998)

  • Animal Foods
  • mollusks
  • aquatic crustaceans


Little is known regarding specific predators of this species, but shortnose mantis shrimp are known to use threat displays, raising their raptorial appendages in response to perceived predatory threats. (Krebs and Davies, 1993)

Ecosystem Roles

Shortnose mantis shrimp are members of the benthic environment, building burrows and preying on other smaller crustaceans and gastropods. Abandoned burrows may be occupied by other organisms, such as small shrimps. There is currently no available data regarding known parasites of this species. (Caldwell, 2005; Hayashi, 2002)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • creates habitat

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Shortnose mantis shrimp are common in the aquarium and pet trade. Along with other species of stomatopods, they are also used in research on visual photopigments and polarized light processing. (Caldwell, 2005; Cronin, et al., 1994a; Cronin, et al., 1994b; Cronin, et al., 1996)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pet trade
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Shortnose mantis shrimp have been known to break aquarium glass and injure humans using their raptorial appendages, though they are not particularly aggressive. (Sunjian, 1998)

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans

Conservation Status

Shortnose mantis shrimp have not special conservation status. (IUCN, 2013)


Daniel Bair (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Alison Gould (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Jeremy Wright (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Atlantic Ocean

the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.

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Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

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living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

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Pacific Ocean

body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.

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living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

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having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.


Referring to an animal that lives on or near the bottom of a body of water. Also an aquatic biome consisting of the ocean bottom below the pelagic and coastal zones. Bottom habitats in the very deepest oceans (below 9000 m) are sometimes referred to as the abyssal zone. see also oceanic vent.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk

delayed fertilization

a substantial delay (longer than the minimum time required for sperm to travel to the egg) takes place between copulation and fertilization, used to describe female sperm storage.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


a distribution that more or less circles the Arctic, so occurring in both the Nearctic and Palearctic biogeographic regions.

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Found in northern North America and northern Europe or Asia.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

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reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

polarized light

light waves that are oriented in particular direction. For example, light reflected off of water has waves vibrating horizontally. Some animals, such as bees, can detect which way light is polarized and use that information. People cannot, unless they use special equipment.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.

saltwater or marine

mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


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