Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unusual snail shell could be a model for better armor

Date:
January 20, 2010
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Deep within the Kairei Indian hydrothermal vent field, two-and-one-half miles below the central Indian Ocean, scientists have discovered a gastropod mollusk, whose armor could improve load-bearing and protective materials in everything from aircraft hulls to sports equipment.

A recently discovered gastropod from the Kairei Indian hydrothermal vent, called Crysomallon squamiferum, has an unusual shell structure superbly suited for protecting it against penetration attack. The outer layer is granular and composed of iron sulfide. The middle layer is much thicker than other mollusks generally have. These key points could be important in mollusc-inspired vehicle or personnel armor construction. In this illustration, a knight attacks the gastropod with a lance, but the gastropod's iron-plated armor withstands his advance.
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation, inset after Haimin Yao et al., PNAS, January 2010

Deep within the Kairei Indian hydrothermal vent field, two-and-one-half miles below the central Indian Ocean, scientists have discovered a gastropod mollusk, whose armor could improve load-bearing and protective materials in everything from aircraft hulls to sports equipment.

Researchers at the National Science Foundation-supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are studying the mollusk's physical and mechanical properties. A report, "Protection mechanisms of the iron-plated armor of a deep sea hydrothermal vent gastropod," appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The so-called "scaly-foot gastropod," has a unique tri-layered shell that may hold insights for future mechanical design principles. Specifically, it has a highly calcified inner layer, a thick organic middle layer. But, it's the extraordinary outer layer fused with granular iron sulfide that excites researchers.

The Kairei Indian vent field is a series of deep gashes in the planet's surface along a volcanic mountain chain below the Indian Ocean. There, researchers on an expedition discovered the never before seen snail in 1999.

"Hydrothermal vent fluids possess high concentration of sulfides and metals, but this mollusk is unique in that it incorporates materials plentiful to vent field into its shell structure," said MIT project leader Christine Ortiz at MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "We were interested in looking at the structure and properties of the individual layers and seeing how they behave mechanically," she said noting that the mollusk's organic inner layer is also interesting.

In particular researchers set out to discover what advantages the structure holds for protection against penetrating attacks from predators. Understanding this can give them new ideas for materials that may be used for cars, trucks and military applications.

To test the shell's properties, researchers performed experiments that simulated generic predatory attacks using both computer models and indentation testing. The indentation testing involved hitting the top of shells with the sharp tip of a probe to measure the shell's hardness and stiffness.

A number of potential predators were found in the same region as the scaly-foot gastropod. One predator, the cone snail, uses a harpoon-like tooth to attempt penetration of before injecting it with paralyzing venom. Additionally, sea-faring crabs are known to grab gastropods within their claws and attempt to puncture their shells and/or squeeze them sometimes for days until the mollusks' shells break.

The testing led to a "realization that each layer of the (mollusk's) exoskeleton is responsible for distinct and multifunctional roles in mechanical protection," Ortiz and her colleagues write in the report. The testing reveals that the shell is "advantageous for penetration resistance, energy dissipation, mitigation of fracture and crack arrest, reduction of back deflections, and resistance to bending and tensile loads."

Our study suggests that the scaly-foot gastropod undergoes very different deformation and protection mechanisms compared to other gastropods," said Ortiz. "It is very efficient in protection, more so than the typical mollusk."

Researchers from Raytheon, Inc., Marlboro, Massachusetts and Asylum Research, Santa Barbara, Calif. assisted with this project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Haimin Yao et al. Protection mechanisms of the iron-plated armor of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent gastropod. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jan. 18, 2010

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Unusual snail shell could be a model for better armor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118153250.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2010, January 20). Unusual snail shell could be a model for better armor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118153250.htm
National Science Foundation. "Unusual snail shell could be a model for better armor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118153250.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins