The Sandfish's Skin: Morphology, Chemistry and Reconstruction
Sprache des Titels:
The sandfish is a lizard having the remarkable ability to move in desert sand in a swimming-like fashion. The most outstanding adaptations to this mode of life are the low friction behaviour and the extensive abrasion resistance of the sandfish skin against sand, outperforming even steel. We investigated the topography, the composition and the mechanical properties of sandfish scales. These consist of glycosylated keratins with high amount of sulphur but no hard inorganic material, such as silicates or lime. Remarkably, atomic force microscopy shows an almost complete absence of attractive forces between the scale surface and a silicon tip, suggesting that this is responsible for the unusual tribological properties. The unusual glycosylation of the keratins was found to be absolutely necessary for the described phenomenon. The scales were dissolved and reconstituted on a polymer surface resulting in properties similar to the original scale. Thus, we provide a pathway towards exploitation of the reconstituted scale material for future engineering applications.