The multiscale hierarchical structure of Heloderma suspectum osteoderms and their mechanical properties

Iacoviello, Francesco, Kirby, Alexander C, Javanmardi, Yousef, Moeendarbary, Emad, Shabanli, Murad, Tsolaki, Elena, Sharp, Alana C ORCID: 0000-0001-5117-5335, Hayes, Matthew J, Keevend, Kerda, Li, Jian-Hao
et al (show 7 more authors) (2020) The multiscale hierarchical structure of Heloderma suspectum osteoderms and their mechanical properties. Acta Biomaterialia, 107. pp. 194-203.

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Osteoderms are hard tissues embedded in the dermis of vertebrates and have been suggested to be formed from several different mineralized regions. However, their nano architecture and micro mechanical properties had not been fully characterized. Here, using electron microscopy, µ-CT, atomic force microscopy and finite element simulation, an in-depth characterization of osteoderms from the lizard Heloderma suspectum, is presented. Results show that osteoderms are made of three different mineralized regions: a dense apex, a fibre-enforced region comprising the majority of the osteoderm, and a bone-like region surrounding the vasculature. The dense apex is stiff, the fibre-enforced region is flexible and the mechanical properties of the bone-like region fall somewhere between the other two regions. Our finite element analyses suggest that when combined into the osteoderm structure, the distinct tissue regions are able to shield the body of the animal by bearing the external forces. These findings reveal the structure-function relationship of the Heloderma suspectum osteoderm in unprecedented detail. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: The structures of bone and teeth have been thoroughly investigated. They provide a basis not only for understanding the mechanical properties and functions of these hard tissues, but also for the de novo design of composite materials. Osteoderms, however, are hard tissues that must possess mechanical properties distinct from teeth and bone to function as a protective armour. Here we provide a detailed analysis of the nanostructure of vertebrate osteoderms from Heloderma suspectum, and show that their mechanical properties are determined by their multiscale hierarchical tissue. We believe this study contributes to advance the current knowledge of the structure-function relationship of the hierarchical structures in the Heloderma suspectum osteoderm. This knowledge might in turn provide a source of inspiration for the design of bioinspired and biomimetic materials.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biomineralizations, Osteoderms, Lizards, Bones, Armour plates
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2021 09:57
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 23:01
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2020.02.029
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