Stomatopod eye structure and function: a review

Arthropod Struct Dev. 2007 Dec;36(4):420-48. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2007.01.006. Epub 2007 Mar 7.


Stomatopods (mantis shrimps) possess apposition compound eyes that contain more photoreceptor types than any other animal described. This has been achieved by sub-dividing the eye into three morphologically discrete regions, a mid-band and two laterally placed hemispheres, and within the mid-band, making simple modifications to a commonly encountered crustacean photoreceptor pattern of eight photoreceptors (rhabdomeres) per ommatidium. Optically the eyes are also unusual with the directions of view of the ommatidia of all three eye regions skewed such that over 70% of the eye views a narrow strip in space. In order to scan the world with this strip, the stalked eyes of stomatopods are in almost continual motion. Functionally, the end result is a trinocular eye with monocular range finding capability, a 12-channel colour vision system, a 2-channel linear polarisation vision system and a line scan sampling arrangement that more resembles video cameras and satellite sensors than animal eyes. Not surprisingly, we are still struggling to understand the biological significance of stomatopod vision and attempt few new explanations here. Instead we use this special edition as an opportunity to review and summarise the structural aspects of the stomatopod retina that allow it to be so functionally complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decapoda / anatomy & histology*
  • Decapoda / physiology*
  • Eye / anatomy & histology*
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*