The Incredible Shrimp

What is one of the most beautiful creatures on Earth, both incredibly colorful, and able to perceive five times the range of colors as humans? Yet, if this creature were just the size of a deer, it would cause massive earthquakes and destruction? Fortunately, this creature rules the shallow sea, and can be respected and admired from a safe distance. The mantis shrimp is, for its size, one of the most fearsome creatures on Earth. While its’ color vision skills are unmatched, its most outstanding feature currently impacting science is the powerful strike of its clubbed arms.

This carnivorous crustacean, scientific name stomatopod, is a wonder of science, an animal that is one of the best in the world in multiple categories. Its punch is so powerful that at a human size it would be more destructive and dangerous than Godzilla. With 1/10th the force of the Mantis Shrimp punch, a human arm could throw a baseball into orbit. The arm is so powerful that when it throws a punch, the water around it boils at the same temperature as the surface of the sun, causing an undersea shockwave and producing tiny bursts of light called sonoluminescence. The arm is thrown faster than a .22 caliber bullet multiple times during the shrimp’s attack, without ever damaging the mantis, even after thousands of high energy impacts over a lifetime.

This natural technology works by layers of chitin, a commonly found carbohydrate that makes up the shells of crabs, for example, which are layered over each other, rotating by approximately 15 degrees. This is called a helicoid, and it’s a technology found in nature which has inspired biomimetic composite structures that are improving laminate strength and toughness. A company inspired by this structure, Helicoid Industries, has conducted over 14 years of research and 100 scientific publications about mantis shrimp helicoid technology to harness the power of strong lightweight materials. The Mantis Shrimp has evolved this tough bio-composite microstructure over hundreds of millions of years. This natural technology has now inspired better and more sustainable innovative solutions for protective gear, sporting equipment, wind turbines, military armor, and anything that requires the strongest and toughest material available.

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