The mantis shrimp smashes its victims’ shells with the force of a .22 caliber bullet. “But that’s not because it has particularly powerful muscles – instead of big biceps, it has arms that are naturally spring-loaded, allowing it to swing its fistlike clubs to speeds up to 23 metres per second.”
“The key part of a mantis shrimp’s punch is a saddle-shaped structure on the arm just above the shrimp’s club. This shape works a bit like a bow and arrow, says Ali Miserez at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore: the muscles pull on the saddle to bend it like an archer’s bow, and when it is released that energy transfers into the club.”
“The shrimp’s saddle holds all that energy without snapping. They found that it works because of a two-layer structure. The top layer is made of a ceramic material similar to bone, and the bottom is made of mostly plastic-like biopolymers.
When the saddle is bent, the top layer gets compressed and the bottom layer is stretched. The ceramic can hold a lot of energy when it is compressed, but is brittle when bent and stretched. The biopolymers are stronger and stretchier, so they hold the whole thing together.”
This isn’t something that Darwin’s blind watchmaker, natural selection, works, in that the shrimp’s punch may be useful in microrobots.
Biomimicry is a science that bring out that what God has designed. And what he did, He did very well.
Crane, Leah. 2018. Mantis shrimps punch with the force of a bullet – and now we know how. New Scientist (18 October).