PIRANHA-PROOF FISH MAY BUILD BETTER BODY ARMOR
Scientists hope to replicate the fish scales of a tough, ancient Amazonian fish that repels predators' bites.
- The arapaima can grow to nearly 8 feet long and weigh more than 500 pounds.
- Piranha normally don’t attack the arapaima.
- The arapaima's outer scales are mineralized bio-material, while the inner ones are made of collagen fibers that form a flexible laminate, almost like a woven cloth.
An ancient Amazonian fish with thick piranha-proof scales may hold the secret to building better bullet-proof body armor, puncture resistant gloves or even safety goggles and CD cases.
Researchers at several institutions have been looking engineering new materials that contain some of the same properties as these fish scales; they’re light, flexible and often transparent. Now some are taking a step forward and actually building these materials.
At the University of California, San Diego, materials science professor Marc Meyers has been studying the scales on the massive freshwater arapaima, which use two layers of scales to repel bites from the predatory piranha.