Insects can patch their broken ‘bones’
When a person breaks a leg, they might get a splint, cast or boot to cradle the bone as it heals. But what happens when a locust breaks a limb? Instead of a cast on the outside, the insect will patch itself up from the inside. These patches can restore up to 66 percent of a leg’s former strength, a new study finds. The data also suggest new ideas for mending various types of pipes — from those in our homes to the living “pipes” inside our bodies.
Locusts and other insects rely on an exoskeleton — external support — made of cuticle .This material is made from a material called chitin. The cuticle has two layers. The outer one — or exocuticle— is tough and can be very thick. It forms a protective armor. The inner layer — or endocuticle— flexes much more.When cut, the cuticle forms a clot to seal off the wound. Then cells on either side of the cut secrete new endocuticle. The secretion spreads across and under the cut. Eventually it turns hard. This creates a thick patch on the inside.
While scientists understood that insects patched themselves this way, Eoin Parle says “There’s a lot to learn from the natural world,” Parle says. An insect’s cuticle, for instance, is very light and hard-wearing, he explains. Strong and stiff, it tends to be very tough, he adds. The insects provide a good opportunity to study healing. Their back legs have to withstand strong forces when they jump.
(Courtesy:Student Science-society for the science and the public)