The secret to a mussel’s muscle has been discovered by researchers at MIT. 


CBC Radio's science columnist Torah Kachur

Mussels attach to rocks, ships and other structures underwater using small hair-like fibres called byssus threads. 

These contribute the most to the mussel’s ability to cling to a surface despite getting pounded by crashing waves.

The researchers found that the secret to a byssus thread strength is the 80:20 ratio of stiff to soft components. This allows the mussels to withstand pulling forces without shearing off and being swept out to sea. 

The mighty mussel can now inspire the composition of all sorts of new materials, from cables to tether underwater equipment to better sutures for blood vessels.