The armor of the African fish Polypterus senegalus is so effective that it sports the best of the best in body armor because it is a composite of several materials lined up in a certain way. Now a team of engineers has dissected the aquatic armor, figuring out how it works in an effort to suit up future soldiers. The fish’s shield would’ve been particularly critical in the past, when it had to fight off members of its own species along with the likes of typical predators, such as giant sea scorpions with biting mouth parts, grasping jaws, claws and spiked tails. The U.S. Army engineers measured the material properties of a single fish scale and its four layer materials, including bone and dentine (a major mineral in teeth). The different chemical properties of each material, the shape and thickness of each layer and the junctions between layers all contributed to the armor’s strength.
The US Army engineers are trying to figure out a way to get the same shielding for a solders clothing in order to protect them better in the battlefield. It’s nice to know that someday our soldiers will be protected from bullets and shrapnel in the warzone.