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. 2018 Oct;86:345-351.
doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2018.07.001. Epub 2018 Jul 2.

Hard to Be Killed: Load-bearing Capacity of the Leech Hirudo Nipponia

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Hard to Be Killed: Load-bearing Capacity of the Leech Hirudo Nipponia

Shanpeng Li et al. J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. .

Abstract

With the evolution for several millions of years, leeches have developed a perfect capability to resist mechanical loads, which provides many inspirations to engineer new materials and new devices. To uncover the mechanism of its strong survival ability, several mechanical approaches, such as compression, tension, adhesion, impact and blood suction experiments were tried. Our experimental results show that a leech (Hirudo nipponia) can surprisingly withstand a compressive force of nearly 106 times its body weight. In tension, this animal demonstrates large deformation and its strain can reach a value bigger than 3. To avoid being removed from the host skin, it produces an adhesion force superior to 118 times its body weight, and it can endure an impact force at least 1500 times its weight. Also the leech skin can bear an internal fluid pressure of around 6 times the atmospheric pressure. These data show that the leech cannot be killed easily through normal mechanical loading approaches. All these amazing performances lie in hierarchical structures and ductility of the skin with highly developed and compact annuluses, and this feature is beneficial to leech's survival.

Keywords: Adhesion; Compression; Impact; Tension; Tolerant internal pressure.

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