Newswise — Writers know the power of the pen, but scientists are just discovering its secrets.
The pen that is of interest to Assistant Professor Mark Messerli of the South Dakota State University Department of Biology and Microbiology is a flexible skeletal structure in the trunk of a squid’s body. The pen is embedded beneath the dorsal mantle, the muscle responsible for the squid’s jet propulsion, and supports the animal’s muscle tissues and organs.
“The squid’s pen is an internal structure like our bones except it is only made of chitin and protein,” Messerli said. “When dried, it resembles an insect wing, except it is about 100 times larger. It is pliable and has great tensile strength.”
Messerli’s team is reverse engineering the squid’s pen to help scientists construct tissue scaffolds for repairing or replacing damaged cartilage, bones and ligaments. The knowledge may also lead to novel pesticides that target insects that spread disease and destroy crops. Read more …