We look at a lot of crazy research in the heartland, but this really caught our attention.

Sure, sharks have a legit rep for being dangerous, but who knew about the bad-ass mantis shrimp? Scientists at Purdue University did.

Apparently, the mantis shrimp can take on attacks from its own species without getting injured. Its secret? Its tail appendage, called a telson, serves as a territorial shield that can stiffen and then flex inward in the case of attack. This allows it to absorb significant amounts of energy during a strike without falling apart.

We’re talking about this little critter here …

FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.orglicensesby2.0)]

And that matters because…?

A team at Pablo Zavattieri’s lab at the College of Engineering at Purdue University, along with researchers at the David Kisailus’ lab at the University of California, have set out to apply the lessons of the mantis shrimp to protective gear.

Think precious cargo: What if there were a material that could prevent car ceilings from caving in on passengers during an accident, or keep fragile objects from breaking when transported over long distances?

Who knew that a group of researchers, inspired by a flinty little crustacean, could make the world safer?