Elastomers are useful polymers in a wide range of applications from diving suits to safety equipment. Finding new strong polymers has been shown possible by taking inspiration from nature, specifically the byssal threads of mussels. Megan Valentine and colleagues at the University of California Santa Barbara’s Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) have thus found a way to avoid the trade-off between strength and flexibility in elastomeric polymers. The UCSB researchers incorporated the mussel-inspired iron coordination bonds into a dry polymeric system. This is important because such a dry polymer could potentially be substituted for stiff but brittle materials, especially in impact- and torsion-related applications.