Secrets of a Killer Shrimp

The tropical mantis shrimp is not only beautiful, it’s powerful, using a club-like appendage to pound open clam shells and the heads of fish. Engineers at UC Riverside are studying the material properties of the “club” down to the nanoscale to figure out how the shrimp manages to use it without hurting itself.  The published their results in this week's issue of Science. From UCR:

The bright orange fist-like club of the mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, a 4-inch long crustacean found in tropical waters, accelerates underwater faster than a 22-caliber bullet. Repeated blows can destroy mollusk shells and crab exoskeletons, both of which have been studied for decades for their impact-resistant qualities.

mantisshrimp

The power of the mantis shrimp is exciting, but David Kisailus, an assistant professor at the Bourns College of Engineering, and his collaborators, were interested in what enabled the club to withstand 50,000 high-velocity strikes on prey during its lifespan. Essentially, how does something withstand 50,000 bullet impacts?

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See a video of the shrimp in action here. That’s a lot of food for a shrimp.  

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