Rock-munching sea urchins have self-sharpening teeth

Science | AAAS | 9/18/2019 | Staff
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Sea urchins’ spines aren’t the only sharp part of their prickly bodies. The sea creatures’ five razorlike teeth (above) are self-sharpening—and a new study suggests scientists may be able to harness this power to make cutting-edge tools that rarely require extra honing.

Sea urchins are well known for their ability to chomp through just about anything; they use their small, star-shaped mouths to crunch on brittle starfish, coral reefs, or even rocks. Scientists long suspected the urchins’ ceramic teeth sharpened themselves, but no one could figure out exactly how they did it.

Researchers - Electron - Microscopy - Film - Teeth

To find out, researchers used scanning electron microscopy to film the teeth of pink sea urchins as they ground against a superhard material made of diamonds. After analyzing 3D movies of exactly how and where the teeth chipped—and conducting multiple mechanical tests—the team found that materials in the teeth are arranged so that they chip only on one side. That helps them maintain a sharp edge all around,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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