Mantis Shrimp Inspires New Body Armor and Helmet Designs

Written by on June 22, 2015 in Marine Life

Here’s yet another reason why the mantis shrimp is one of the most awesome creatures in the ocean: it has inspired new body armor and football helmet designs.

Mantis shrimp.

Mantis shrimp. Photo credit: PacificKlaus via photopin cc.

Mantis shrimp can “repeatedly pummel the shells of prey” using their hammer-like appendage with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet. They have the fastest punch in the animal kingdom – so fast that it creates cavitation bubbles that can injure, stun, or kill their prey even if it wasn’t directly hit by the raptorial appendage.

“The smasher mantis shrimp will hit many times per day. It is amazing,” Pablo Zavattieri, an associate professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and a University Faculty Scholar at Purdue University, said in a news release.

Now, new research from University of California, Riverside reveals that the mantis shrimp’s club can survive these rapid-fire blows by filtering out certain wave frequencies. This is possible because of the way the club is designed. It contains chitin, which is the same substance found in many crustacean shells, but it’s arranged differently. The helicoidal structure (like a spiral staircase) naturally filters out shear waves, which could be helpful when designing body armor and helmets.

“This is a novel concept,” explained David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering. “It implies that we can make composite materials able to filter certain stress waves that would otherwise damage the material.”

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Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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