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The Structure of the Limpet’s Teeth

The Structure of the Limpet’s Teeth

 The common limpet, an aquatic snail with a conical shell, is equipped with uncommonly strong teeth. They are composed of thin, tightly packed fibers of a hard mineral known as goethite laced within a softer protein base.

 Consider: The limpet’s radula, a tonguelike appendage, is covered with rows of curved teeth—each tooth less than one millimeter (3/64 in.) long—that act like a file. Each tooth needs to be extremely strong and hard so that it can scrape algae from rock surfaces during feeding.

 Researchers used an atomic force microscope to measure the pulling force that the teeth can withstand before breaking. They found that the tensile strength of the limpet’s teeth is the highest ever recorded for a biological material—even stronger than spider silk. The lead researcher stated: “We should be thinking about making our own structures following the same design principles.”

 Researchers believe that synthetic versions of the limpet’s tooth material could be used to construct cars, boats, and planes and even to make dental restorations.

 What do you think? Did the amazing structure of the limpet’s teeth evolve? Or was it designed?