Not many people consider the peacock mantis shrimp when thinking about strength. But don’t let their tiny stature fool you, these 4 to 6 inch long crustaceans pack a mean “punch.” The claw – or club – of a peacock mantis shrimp can accelerate faster than a .22-calliber bullet and can strike its prey thousands of times without breaking.

These incredibly violent creatures have sparked the curiosity of a research team from the University of California, Riverside. “The more we study the club of this tiny crustacean, the more we realize its structure could improve so many things we use every day,” said David Kisailus, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Science and the Winston Chung Endowed Chair of Energy Innovation at the UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering.

The team decided to study the shrimp closely to develop a carbon fiber composite that can replicate the claw’s structure. By studying the structure of the club, the researchers believe that the shrimp-inspired composite material design could make stronger airplanes, cars and body armor.

Kisailus and his team are continuing the study of this new material to determine the proper arrangement of fibers that will create high strength and durability. The research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation.

Check out this video of UC Riverside’s Mantis Shrimp: