In contrast to the majority of inorganic or artificial materials, there is no ideal long-range ordering of structures on the surface in biological systems. Local symmetry of the ordering on biological surfaces is also often broken. In the present paper, the particular symmetry violation was analyzed for dimple-like nano-pattern on the belly scales of the skin of the pythonid snake Morelia viridis using correlation analysis and statistics of the distances between individual nanostructures. The results of the analysis performed on M. viridis were compared with a well-studied nano-nipple pattern on the eye of the sphingid moth Manduca sexta, used as a reference. The analysis revealed non-random, but very specific symmetry violation. In the case of the moth eye, the nano-nipple arrangement forms a set of domains, while in the case of the snake skin, the nano-dimples arrangement resembles an ordering of particles (molecules) in amorphous (glass) state. The function of the nano-dimples arrangement may be to provide both friction and strength isotropy of the skin. A simple model is suggested, which provides the results almost perfectly coinciding with the experimental ones. Possible mechanisms of the appearance of the above nano-formations are discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
M. Baum, L. Heepe, S.N. Gorb, Friction behavior of a microstructured polymer surface inspired by snake skin. Beilstein J. Nanotechnol. 5, 83–97 (2014)
R.A. Berthé, G. Westhoff, H. Bleckmann, S.N. Gorb, Surface structure and frictional properties of the skin of the Amazon tree boa Corallus hortulanus (Squamata, Boidae). J. Comp. Physiol. A 195, 311–318 (2009)
M.-C.G. Klein, J.K. Deuschle, S.N. Gorb, Material properties of the skin of the Kenyan sand boa Gangylophis colubrinus (Squamata, Boidae). J. Comp. Physiol. A 196, 659–668 (2010)
M.-C.G. Klein, S.N. Gorb, Epidermis architecture and material properties of the skin of four snake species. J. R. Soc. Interface 9, 3140–3155 (2012)
M.-C.G. Klein, S.N. Gorb, Ultrastructure and wear patterns of the ventral epidermis of four snake species (Squamata, Serpentes). Zoology 117(5), 295–314 (2014)
M. Varenberg, G. Halperin, I. Etsion, Different aspects of the role of wear debris in fretting wear. Wear 252, 902–910 (2002)
C.V. Schmidt, S.N. Gorb, Snake scale microstructure: phylogenetic significance and functional adaptations. Zoologica 157, 1–106 (2012)
H. Peisker, S.N. Gorb, Always on the bright side of life: anti-adhesive properties of insect ommatidia grating. J. Exp. Biol. 213, 3457–3462 (2010)
D.G. Stavenga, S. Foletti, G. Palasantzas, K. Arikawa, Light on the moth-eye corneal nipple array of butterflies. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 273, 661–667 (2006)
A. Blagodatski, A. Sergeevb, M. Kryuchkova, Y. Lopatinad, V.L. Katanaev, Diverse set of Turing nanopatterns coat corneae across insect lineages. PNAS 112(34), 10750–10755 (2015)
R. Li, B. Bowerman, Symmetry breaking in biology. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 2(3), a003475 (2010)
R.O. Prum, R.H. Torres, Structural colouration of avian skin: convergent evolution of coherently scattering dermal collagen arrays. J. Exp. Biol. 206, 2409–2429 (2003)
C.G. Bernhard, W.H. Miller, A corneal nipple pattern in insect compound eyes. Acta Physiol. Scand. 56, 385–386 (1962)
G.W. Miskimen, N.L. Rodriguez, Structure and functional aspects of the Scotopic compound eye of the sugarcane borer moth. J. Morphol. 168, 73–84 (1981)
J. Stalleicken, T. Labhart, H. Mouritsen, Physiological characterization of the compound eye in monarch butterflies with focus on the dorsal rim area. J. Comp. Physiol. A 192, 321–331 (2006)
K.C. Lee, U. Erb, Remarkable crystal and defect structures in butterfly eye nano-nipple arrays. Arthropod Struct. Dev. 44, 587–594 (2015)
A. Sergeev, A.A. Timchenko, M. Kryuchkov, A. Blagodatski, G.A. Enin, V.L. Katanaev, Origin of order in bionanostructures. RSC Adv. 5, 63521–63527 (2015)
C.V. Thompson, Structure evolution during processing of polycrystalline films. Ann Rev. Mater. Sci. 30, 159–190 (2000)
Snake skin material was kindly provided by Dr. Guido Westhoff (Tierpark Hagenbeck, Hamburg, Germany). This study was supported by the SPP 1420 priority program of the German Science Foundation (DFG) “Biomimetic Materials Research: Functionality by Hierarchical Structuring of Materials” (Project GO 995/9-2) to S.N.G. and COST STSM ECOST-STSM-MP1303-010216-071056.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Kovalev, A., Filippov, A. & Gorb, S. Correlation analysis of symmetry breaking in the surface nanostructure ordering: case study of the ventral scale of the snake Morelia viridis . Appl. Phys. A 122, 253 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-016-9795-2
- Power Spectrum
- Hexagonal Arrangement
- Symmetry Violation
- Distance Histogram
- Snake Skin