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Mechanical design principles of ancient fish armor

ChristineOrtiz's picture

Materials design principles of ancient fish armour

Benjamin J. F. Bruet, Juha Song, Mary C. Boyce & Christine Ortiz

Abstract :

Knowledge of the structure–property–function relationships of dermal scales of armoured fish could enable pathways to improved bioinspired human body armour, and may provide clues to the evolutionary origins of mineralized tissues. Here, we present a multiscale experimental and computational approach that reveals the materials design principles present within individual ganoid scales from the 'living fossil' Polypterus senegalus. This fish belongs to the ancient family Polypteridae, which first appeared 96 million years ago during the Cretaceous period and still retains many of their characteristics. The mechanistic origins of penetration resistance (approximating a biting attack) were investigated and found to include the juxtaposition of multiple distinct reinforcing composite layers that each undergo their own unique deformation mechanisms, a unique spatial functional form of mechanical properties with regions of differing levels of gradation within and between material layers, and layers with an undetectable gradation, load-dependent effective material properties, circumferential surface cracking, orthogonal microcracking in laminated sublayers and geometrically corrugated junctions between layers.

Contact info :



ChristineOrtiz's picture

Christine Ortiz, Associate Professor
Director, MIT MISTI-Israel Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Materials Science and Engineering RM 13-4022
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA
Office Phone : (617) 452 3084


Xiaodong Li's picture

Thanks Christine for posting this exciting work. The paper reports lots of new insights about the toughening mechanisms. This is very helpful for my current research on biomaterials.

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