Biological Materials: Mechanical Function of a Complex Three-Dimensional Suture Joining the Bony Elements in the Shell of the Red-Eared Slider Turtle (Adv. Mater. 4/2009)



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The shell of a turtle is required to be a shield that is stiff at high loads, but must provide sufficient flexibility for respiration and locomotion at smaller loads. On p. 407, Peter Fratzl and co-workers show that these seemingly contradictory requirements are met by a self-locking material, whereby stiff bony elements are connected by a much softer suture with a complex three-dimensional shape.