On the mechanical properties ofLimulus solid cuticle
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For mature animals where all fractions of the cuticle have a high insoluble protein content, the outer fraction is notably brittle while the middle and inner fractions exhibit extensive plastic flow on tensile deformation.
The composite tensile behaviour ofLimulus cuticle can be adequately described in terms of a simple law of mixtures where the three fractions are held together by means of a brittle glue at their interfaces.
No significant differences were observed between the alcohol-preserved material and specimens of fresh whole cuticle in terms of mechanical behaviour where both have equal amounts of insoluble protein.
The fracture behaviour of the whole cuticle is biologically analogous to case-hardened engineering materials.
None of the available histological criteria for distinguishing individual components of the cuticle were useful as indicators of either the extent of tanning of the mechanical properties ofLimulus cuticle.
All the protein in the cuticle ofLimulus becomes stabilized by cross-linking, and this process is important both in making the protein insoluble and in determining the mechanical properties of the cuticle.
KeywordsMechanical Property Brittle Protein Content Human Physiology Mechanical Behaviour
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