Researchers at MIT have been studying a deep sea snail called Crysomallon squamiferum, which features a plated “armor” foot under it’s protective shell which it uses to defend itself from crabs and other predators in the Indian Ocean. This “iron snail” is inspiring the next generation of body armor used by soldiers and law enforcement to keep them protected. Snails usually have a shell that consists of calcium carbonate, the snail used in the MIT study has an additional layer of iron within its shell, giving it the nickname the “iron snail”.
The iron snail’s armor is arranged in overlapping waves to help dissipate any attacks from predators. It also has a tri-layer type design with two hard layers over a softer inner layer which researchers found very strong and durable in their tests. It’s pretty remarkable that with a little help from mother nature, we will be better able to protect our brave men and women defending our freedom every day.
The iron-plated shell of a deep water snail could inspire a new class of life-saving armor for soldiers, according to new research published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Typically mollusks have shells made of calcium carbonate, covered in a thick organic layer,” said Christina Ortiz, a scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the new paper. “This mollusk has an additional layer of iron incorporated into its shell, which makes it really unique.”