The stomatopod dactyl club: a formidable damage-tolerant biological hammer

Science. 2012 Jun 8;336(6086):1275-80. doi: 10.1126/science.1218764.


Nature has evolved efficient strategies to synthesize complex mineralized structures that exhibit exceptional damage tolerance. One such example is found in the hypermineralized hammer-like dactyl clubs of the stomatopods, a group of highly aggressive marine crustaceans. The dactyl clubs from one species, Odontodactylus scyllarus, exhibit an impressive set of characteristics adapted for surviving high-velocity impacts on the heavily mineralized prey on which they feed. Consisting of a multiphase composite of oriented crystalline hydroxyapatite and amorphous calcium phosphate and carbonate, in conjunction with a highly expanded helicoidal organization of the fibrillar chitinous organic matrix, these structures display several effective lines of defense against catastrophic failure during repetitive high-energy loading events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Structures / anatomy & histology*
  • Animal Structures / chemistry
  • Animal Structures / physiology
  • Animal Structures / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Calcium Carbonate / analysis
  • Calcium Phosphates / analysis
  • Chitin / analysis
  • Crustacea / anatomy & histology*
  • Crustacea / chemistry
  • Crustacea / physiology*
  • Crystallization
  • Durapatite / analysis
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Phosphorus / analysis
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • amorphous calcium phosphate
  • Chitin
  • Phosphorus
  • Durapatite
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Calcium