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July 17, 2005

The Glass House — Undersea Version

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In deep ocean water the glass sponge Euplectella, or Venus flower basket, creates a tubelike skeleton (above) up to a foot long, with seven hierarchical structural levels, out of glass (silica), calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate.

John D. Currey, a biologist at the University of York in England, analyzed the structure and found "a skeleton of extraordinary structural and mechanical refinement," noted a story which appeared on the front page of last Tuesday's New York Times Science section.

The creature made the big–time the week previously, appearing on the cover of the July 8 issue of Science magazine to highlight the report.

In the cover photo (detail below)

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a scanning electron micrograph of an etched sample of the mineral skeleton shows the laminated silica cement holding the glassy crossing fibers in place.

July 17, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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