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Science. 2012 Jun 8;336(6086):1275-80. doi: 10.1126/science.1218764.

The stomatopod dactyl club: a formidable damage-tolerant biological hammer.

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Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 01238, USA.


Nature has evolved efficient strategies to synthesize complex mineralized structures that exhibit exceptional damage tolerance. One such example is found in the hypermineralized hammer-like dactyl clubs of the stomatopods, a group of highly aggressive marine crustaceans. The dactyl clubs from one species, Odontodactylus scyllarus, exhibit an impressive set of characteristics adapted for surviving high-velocity impacts on the heavily mineralized prey on which they feed. Consisting of a multiphase composite of oriented crystalline hydroxyapatite and amorphous calcium phosphate and carbonate, in conjunction with a highly expanded helicoidal organization of the fibrillar chitinous organic matrix, these structures display several effective lines of defense against catastrophic failure during repetitive high-energy loading events.

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