The mantis shrimp continues to be a bad ass in the world of stomapods. Not only are they stronger than airplanes, their club-like appendage is faster underwater than a 22-caliber bullet. Now, new research into this most interesting and take no prisoners stomapod suggests that they are able to withstand rapid-fire blows by neutralizing certain frequencies of “shear waves” according to a new research paper published by engineers at the University of California, Riverside and Purdue University.
The famous club-like appendage that the mantis shrimp possesses is made of composite material that contains a fiber called chitin. This is the same material that is found in the shells of marine crustaceans, but with the mantis shrimp, it is how the chitin is constructed within the club that makes the difference.
The club-like appendage of the mantis shrimp has materials that may inspire next generation body armor and football helmets. Photo by Carlos Puma
According to the paper, the chitins are built in a helicoidal structure that looks like a spiral staircase. This feat of natural engineering enables the mantis shrimp to withstand the high velocity blows it inflicts on its prey by filtering out wave frequencies that the scientists call shear waves. These shear waves are very damaging to prey but not with the mantis shrimp. So how bad ass is the mantis shrimp’s “dactyl club?” According to the researchers, it can reach an acceleration of up to 10,000 Gs, which is not surprising considering the shrimp is known to break aquarium glass.
“This is a novel concept,” David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering said in an interview in UCRToday. “It implies that we can make composite materials able to filter certain stress waves that would otherwise damage the material.” So what do the researchers think can be developed by taking inspiration from the materials built into mantis shrimp’s club-like appendage? Body armor and improved football helmets for starters. The continuing research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
The complete paper can be read on arxiv.org website.