With its technicolor carapace and bug-eyed expression, the mantis shrimp could pass for a character in a Disney movie. Don’t underestimate its appearance, though. Despite measuring a mere four inches, the underwater crustacean packs a mighty punch with its bright orange club, a fist-like appendage that smites prey faster than a 22-caliber bullet. Repeated blows, each one exceeding the force of 110 pounds, can crumble mollusk shells and crab exoskeletons, both of are renowned for their impenetrability. Learning the mantis shrimp’s secret, say researchers, could be the key to producing lighter, stronger body armor and vehicle frames.
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