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Contact: Ioana Patringenaru
ipatrin@ucsd.edu
858-822-0899
University of California - San Diego

Toucan Beak

Caption: The interior of the toucan's beak is rigid "foam" made of bony fibers and drum-like membranes sandwiched between outer layers of keratin, the protein that makes up fingernails, hair and horn. The result is solid “foam” made of air-tight cells that gives the beak additional rigidity. Like a house covered by a shingled roof, the foam is covered with overlapping keratin tiles, each about 50 micrometers in diameter and 1 micrometer thick, which are glued together to produce sheets.

Credit: Marc Meyers/Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego

Usage Restrictions: Credit required

Related news release: Tough, light and strong: Lessons from nature could lead to the creation of new materials


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