X-ray Diffraction Studies of Echinoderm Plates

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Science  28 Nov 1969:
Vol. 166, Issue 3909, pp. 1147-1150
DOI: 10.1126/science.166.3909.1147


X-ray diffraction studies confirm that, with few exceptions, each skeletal element of echtinoderms is a single crystal of magnesium-rich calcite and that a relation exists between the shape of the element and the crystallographic a- and c-axes. The exceptions incluide the teeth of echinoids, and the calcareous ring as well as the anal teeth of holothurians. The tubercles of an echinoid plate begin their growth as parts of the single crystal of the plate; under the mechanical action of the spines that are attached to them, they become partly polycrystalline, as shown by scanning electron microscopy and by x-ray powder diffraction. The interface between inorganic crystalline and organic amorphous matter in the skeletal element appears to be the first example reported in nature of a periodic mninimal suirface.

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