Scientists have discovered in the teeth of the mollusk a rare mineral that was previously found only in rocks. Details are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered for the first time a rare mineral, azovskite, in the teeth of a chiton, a large clam that lives on rocky shores. Before that, the mineral was found only in rocks.
This mineral has only been observed in very minute quantities in geological samples and never before in a biological context. It has a high water content which makes it strong at a low density. This is what makes the teeth of the tunic hard, but light.
Derk Joster, senior study author
To study the chiton’s tooth, the scientists used Mössbauer spectroscopy. This is a nuclear gamma resonance method, which is based on the Mössbauer effect, which consists in resonant absorption without the recoil of the atomic nucleus of monochromatic gamma radiation emitted by a radioactive source. Nuclear gamma resonance is used in physical materials science, geology, chemistry, and biology.
He helped scientists discover azovskite dispersed in a long, hollow structure that connects the head of the tooth to the flexible sheath of the radula.