Ash's Blog

Sea urchins have self-sharpening teeth.

Posted on: February 6, 2011

Urchins are infamous for their spiny outer shell, but most people do not know that these creatures are able to chew through rock! The secret to this unique ability lies in the composition of their teeth, which are only 2 centimeters long. Scientists examined urchins’ teeth with an x-ray to find that 200 million years of evolution has created an ingenious organic structure. Their teeth contain a pattern of crystalline calcite plates and fibers held together by a super-strong cement of calcite nanoparticles. Throughout this lattice are pockets of weaker organic material which is thought to allow a tooth to shed damaged sections without losing its razor-sharp edge. This structure can serve as a great inspiration and may unlock the potential for self-sharpening tools of the future!


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