Chitons are flattened, bilaterally symmetrical marine mollusks in the class Polyplacophora.
These creatures live worldwide, from cold waters through to the tropics.
Their teeth are one of the hardest known materials in nature. They are attached to a soft, flexible, tongue-like radula, which scrapes over rocks to collect algae and other food.
“We’ve been fascinated by the chiton for a long time,” said study senior author Dr. Derk Joester, a researcher in the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University.
“Mechanical structures are only as good as their weakest link, so it’s interesting to learn how the chiton solves the engineering problem of how to connect its ultrahard tooth to a soft underlying structure.”