Friday, 8 June 2012

Take That Thor! Secret of Hard-Hitting Crustacean Claw Found

If sea creatures were Marvel comic book characters, the peacock mantis shrimp would be Thor. These colorful crustaceans have a hammerlike claw that can smash prey with the acceleration of a 0.22-caliber bullet — not unlike the superhero's mythological weapon.

Now, a new study reveals the secrets behind the strength of the mantis shrimp's claw at the molecular level. It turns out this appendage is ideally adapted to deliver punishing blow after punishing blow without breaking. These adaptations are already inspiring researchers to engineer biology-mimicking materials that could inspire everything from better boat propellers to safer body armor.

"What makes [mantis shrimp claws] so incredible is that they're stiff and they're also tough, which is really kind of an inverse relationship in materials science," said study researcher David Kisailus, a materials scientist at the University of California, Riverside.

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