Mantis Shrimp Are Made Of Stronger Stuff Than Aeroplanes

Researchers are copying the crustacean to design new, stronger materials.

1. Mantis shrimp swing their arms out at 80kph when they punch.

That’s about the same acceleration as a .22-calibre bullet. Luckily their club is stronger than the standard material used in aeroplane frames, so it can withstand it.

2. They can punch prey thousands of times without breaking their arms.

Flickr: silkebaron / Creative Commons / BuzzFeed

The force created by the impact of the mantis shrimp’s club is more than 1,000 times its own weight. In fact, the crustaceans have to be kept in special tanks in the lab, because they’d smash through a normal one.

3. It manages this with a club made up of different sections, including one with a shock absorbing spiral pattern.

Kisailus et al. / sciencemag.org

The blue part in this diagram is the hard outer layer of the mantis shrimp’s club. Behind that is a region called the endocuticle, where fibre layers are arranged in a spiral pattern to act as a shock absorber. Each layer is rotated by a small angle from the layer below to eventually complete a 180-degree rotation.

4. By copying this pattern, researchers could design new, stronger materials.

Kisailus et al. / sciencedirect.com

The materials would be useful for a variety of applications, including aeroplane and car parts and even body armour.

5. In a paper out this week in the journal Acta Biomaterialia researchers detail how they made prototype materials based on the mantis shrimp’s club.


A team of researchers made several different materials based on the mantis shrimp pattern. They also made two control samples, including one based on the standard used in the aerospace industry, where alternating layers are stacked on one another at 45 degree intervals.

The mantis shrimp-inspired samples all fared better than the other two.

6. Way to go, mantis shrimp.

Video courtesy Roy L Caldwell.

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