Built for tough conditions

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Science  13 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6223, pp. 712-713
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5245

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To perform such mechanically demanding tasks as biting, chewing, or even rock-grinding, animal teeth have evolved into a wide range of morphologies, constructed from minerals as diverse as magnetite, calcium carbonate, and carbonated hydroxy-apatite. Moreover, serial tooth replacement or continuously growing teeth with self-sharpening abilities have evolved in many vertebrates and invertebrates to counteract the effects of constant abrasion (see the figure). On page 746 of this issue, Gordon et al. (1) use rodent and rabbit tooth enamel as model systems, combining atomic resolution tomography and x-ray spectroscopy to elucidate the nanoscale architecture of this high-performance biological ceramic.