Donna M. Ebenstein, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Dermal plates from armored catfish are bony structures that cover their body. In this paper we characterized structural, chemical, and nanomechanical properties of the dermal plates from the Amazonian fish Pterygoplichthys pardalis. Analysis of the morphology of the plates using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that the dermal plates have a sandwich-like structure composed of an inner porous matrix surrounded by two external dense layers. This is different from the plywood-like laminated structure of elasmoid fish scales but similar to the structure of osteoderms found in the dermal armour of some reptiles and mammals. Chemical analysis performed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) results revealed similarities between the composition of P. pardalis plates and the elasmoid fish scales of Arapaima gigas. Reduced moduli of P. pardalis plates measured using nanoindentation were also consistent with reported values for A. gigas scales, but further revealed that the dermal plate is an anisotropic and heterogeneous material, similar to many other fish scales and osteoderms. It is postulated that the sandwich-like structure of the dermal plates provides a lightweight and tough protective layer.
Copyright 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Ebenstein, Donna M.; Calderon, Carlos; Troncoso, Omar P.; and Torres, Fernando G. “Characterization of Dermal Plates from Armored Catfish Pterygoplichthys pardalis Reveals Sandwich-Like Nanocomposite Structure.” Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 45, (2015) : 175-182.