Mantis Shrimp - High-Strength Materials

A small mantis shrimp minds its own business as a crab approaches, looking for dinner. When the crab gets close, the shrimp suddenly triggers its built-in swinging hammer, shattering the thick shell of the crab. The shrimp’s hammer appendage is observed to accelerate instantly from rest to 50 miles per hour, one of the fastest animal movements known. The resulting force can not only break crab shell, but can also crack aquarium glass when the shrimp is captive.

Harvard scientists study the trigger mechanism of the mantis shrimp, and also its ability to strike with such force without injuring itself. The hammer mechanism appears to be a combination of materials, with coatings similar to the way the hands of a boxer are wrapped with layers of tape.

Mantis shrimp may help us develop high strength materials for sports and body armor. The creature’s rapid motion may also be applied to the activity of small robotics. Whatever the lessons learned from mantis shrimp, they are yet another example of biomimicry, the amazing and useful designs planned and placed in nature by the Creator for our discovery.