Limpets have proven to make a very strong material © fabioveronesi/iStock
Spider silk, long the strongest known biological material, was recently knocked off the top spot by a material produced by another invertebrate: the common limpet.
Limpets use a tooth-coated tongue to rasp algae from rocks. These teeth need to be strong to avoid damage, and indeed are several times stronger than spider silk and on a par with the toughest man made materials.
Their strength apparently lies in their structure – microscopic mineral splinters embedded in a protein matrix – which scientists are now trying to reproduce in synthetic materials.
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