Sea Snails Make Strongest Material on Earth

The teeth of the common limpet species (Patella vulgata) are tougher than Kevlar and stronger than spider silk, researchers report in the Feb. 18 issue of The Royal Society journal Interface.

“Spider silk has been winning this competition for a long time. I was surprised and excited that limpet teeth beat the winner,” said lead study author Asa Barber, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Southampton in England.

Limpets are tough little snails that live everywhere in the ocean, from the deepest, darkest canyons to the roughest, toughest surf. Their jaunty, cone-shaped shell protects a sturdy foot that clings to rocks with a phenomenal grip. Limpets dine on algae, unrolling a long tongue studded with hundreds of sharp teeth that scrape their dinner off boulders and cliffs.

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