By Lenny Pierce
Scientists are already trying to harness the durability of oyster shells to develop bullet proof windshields of military vehicles, and now they’re turning to the mantis shrimp’s shell in designing the rest of the Humvee. The mantis shrimp hunts by punching its prey with two hammer-like appendages that snap forward with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet, meaning that whatever covers these body parts must be incredibly durable if it is to hold up over the shrimp’s life time. In the ongoing quest to develop stronger and stronger building materials for planes, cars and body armor, scientists at the University of Riverside decided they need to figure out how these fists stayed intact after a lifetime of dealing the hardest hits in the ocean.
To give you an idea of the punch these guys pack, watch this specimen beat the hell out of a clam:
As it turns out, the punching-claw’s covering consists of several layers of mineralized fiber. Each layer is arranged at an angle to the last so that at any given impact point, there is a spiral structure that effectively dissipates the impact. The photo below shows a cross section of …read more