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How The Mantis Shrimp 'Claw' Could Inspire Helmet and Body Armor Design

The design structure of the mantis shrimp claw can be utilized to create stronger protective materials for humans.

The tiny mantis shrimp may unlock the secrets of protective outerwear. Although lightweight and small, this crustacean uses its enlarged front limbs to repeatedly strike prey at high speeds (as fast as a .22 caliber bullet) and with great force – and no damage to its’ appendages.

So how do they pull off such a feat? Digging deeper into what makes the mantis shrimp claws so durable, scientists have discovered the answer is in its design structure.

Source: Klaus Stiefel/Flickr Source: Klaus Stiefel/Flickr

The chitin fibers in the claw are arranged in a helicoidal pattern, much like a spiral staircase, according to research conducted by scientists at the University of California-Riverside and Purdue University. The spiral architecture of the limb allows it to withstand swift, recurrent blows, by separating damaging wave frequencies known as shear waves, the study said.

Applying a similar structure—one that filters detrimental sound waves to improve resilience—in composite materials for body armor, athletic gear, and car and plane framework would be revolutionary, according to the scientists.

It’s amazing how one component of a tiny marine organism can provide insight into shield structure that has the potential to protect people from harm. Sometimes, all we have to do is look at the bottom of the ocean for some innovative design inspiration!


Check our article: Peacock Mantis Shrimp Punch Could Knock You Out


For a look at the mantis shrimp studied at UC-Riverside, check out the video below. 

The Prophecy N°1 by Fabrice Monteiro

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