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Rugged Rudolph: Scientists discover why reindeer antlers are so strong

A herd of reindeer is seen in a housing as pastors selecting and sorting in the settlement of Krasnoye in the Nenets Autonomous District, Russia, 28 November 2016. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

A team of scientists from the UK’s Queen Mary University of London have discovered the secret behind what makes reindeer antlers so hard.

In a report published Monday in the ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, the team said that the X-ray techniques and computer modeling to get a closer look at the antlers. The team also studied the antlers of structures at the nano-level, which measures about a thousandth of the thickness of a hair strand, in order to determine what makes them so strong.

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Scientists were keen to discover why the reindeers’ antlers can endure the effects during the battles. First author Paolino, The Falco of the university’s School of Engineering and Materials Science explained their sustainability on the school’s website. “The mucilage, which the antlers are staggered instead of in line with each other,” said Falco. “This enables them to absorb the energy of the impact of a collision during a battle.”

This discovery has provided insight and filled a previous gap in the scientific understanding of the structure of the modelling of the bone, according to the university, who added that the information can be used in the future to create damage resistant materials.

Ettore Barbieri, co-author of the report, said that the next steps are the making of a 3D printed model with fibres “, arranged in staggered condition, and connected by an elastic interface.”

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“The goal is to prove that additive manufacturing – where a prototype can be made of a layer at a time – can be used to make damage resistant composite material, said Barbieri.

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