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Structural design of the minute clypeasteroid echinoid Echinocyamus pusillus.


ABSTRACT: The clypeasteroid echinoid skeleton is a multi-plated, light-weight shell construction produced by biomineralization processes. In shell constructions, joints between individual elements are considered as weak points, yet these echinoid skeletons show an extensive preservation potential in both Recent and fossil environments. The remarkable strength of the test is achieved by skeletal reinforcement structures and their constructional layouts. Micro-computed tomography and scanning electron microscopy are used for microstructural and volumetric analyses of the echinoid's skeleton. It is shown that strengthening mechanisms act on different hierarchical levels from the overall shape of the skeleton to skeletal interlocking. The tight-fitting and interlocking plate joints lead to a shell considered to behave as a monolithic structure. The plate's architecture features distinct regions interpreted as a significant load-transferring system. The internal support system follows the segmentation of the remaining skeleton, where sutural layout and stereom distribution are designed for effective load transfer. The structural analysis of the multi-plated, yet monolithic skeleton of Echinocyamus pusillus reveals new aspects of the micro-morphology and its structural relevance for the load-bearing behaviour. The analysed structural principles allow E. pusillus to be considered as a role model for the development of multi-element, light-weight shell constructions.

SUBMITTER: Grun TB 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5990780 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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