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Chinese scientists working with other researchers have for the first time uncovered the underlying mechanisms of the hierarchical structure of whale baleen, with an eye toward developing advanced engineered materials. In a recent publication, Dr. Bin Wang from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and American collaborators have revealed how underlying mechanisms of the hierarchical structure of baleen contribute to its unique fracture behavior.
The ocean possesses a cornucopia of organisms that thrive through ingenious strategies, thus providing a wealth of inspiration for innovation. Baleen whales are particularly notable due to the many important properties of their characteristic baleen, the filter-feeding apparatus inside the oral cavity of mysticetes (baleen whales). It consists of a series of parallel plates suspended from the palate down both sides of the mouth and is the most mineralized material of the keratins. Baleen allows for efficient feeding on great quantities of small zooplankton. This filtering mechanism has enabled mysticetes to evolve into the largest living creatures on earth.
Place - Teeth - Lifetime - Forces - Water
Taking the place of teeth, baleen withstands a lifetime of forces generated by water flow and prey without fracturing. Indeed, fracture toughness, which measures structural integrity for reliable functioning, is a crucial material property for baleen as well as for materials utilized in marine applications. Although rarely studied, baleen has long been known to be both strong and flexible. It was a popular material used in corsets from the 11th to the 20th centuries and has been used...
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