Stomatopods are often described as vicious creatures – for doing the same sort of things that human beings do, smashing and stabbing. Is there a tender side to the mantis shrimp, as well?
Yes, as a matter of fact, mantis shrimp do have a tender spot, under their invertebrate exoskeletons. There are some species of mantis shrimps that practice monogamy.
That’s no small feat for a mantis shrimp, because they tend to be very territorial animals, even in dealing with members of the opposite sex in their own species. Researchers have found that stomatopods need to find a way to selectively turn off their territoriality in order to pursue a more stable strategy for the continuation of the species. Is there a lesson for humans, that family values are strongest when the instinct to establish security over territory is overcome? I’ll leave the final decision to the political scientists, but there is some benefit to consider, I’m tempted to say, in the role of peaceful coexistence for the survival of the species.
Lest we take the anthropomorphic path too far, and declare mantis shrimps to be models of monogamous family values in a progressive sense of open territoriality, it’s important to remember that there are more species of mantis shrimps that are non-monogamous than that are monogamous. Most stomatopods love them and leave them, the better not to get bashed the morning after.