Flexible design in the stomatopod dactyl club

Thorbjørn Erik Køppen Christensen, Jia Qing Isaiah Chua, Nina Kølln Wittig, Mads Ry Vogel Jørgensen, Innokenty Kantor, Jesper Skovhus Thomsen, Ali Miserez, Henrik Birkedal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The stomatopod is a fascinating animal that uses its weaponized appendage dactyl clubs for breaking mollusc shells. Dactyl clubs are a well studied example of biomineralized hierarchical structures. Most research has focused on the regions close to the action, namely the impact region and surface composed of chitin and apatite crystallites. Further away from the site of impact, the club has lower mineralization and more amorphous phases; these areas have not been as actively studied as their highly mineralized counterparts. This work focuses on the side of the club, in what is known as the periodic and striated regions. A combination of laboratory micro-computed tomography, synchrotron X-ray diffraction mapping and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence mapping has shown that the mineral in this region undergoes the transition from an amorphous to a crystalline phase in some, but not all, clubs. This means that this side region can be mineralized by either an amorphous phase, calcite crystallites or a mixture of both. It was found that when larger calcite crystallites form, they are organized (textured) with respect to the chitin present in this biocomposite. This suggests that chitin may serve as a template for crystallization when the side of the club is fully mineralized. Further, calcite crystallites were found to form as early as 1 week after moulting of the club. This suggests that the side of the club is designed with a significant safety margin that allows for a variety of phases, i.e. the club can function independently of whether the side region has a crystalline or amorphous mineral phase.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)288–296
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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