It turns out that this is what makes the ant bite painful -AKURAT News

AKURATNEWS – You may have felt excruciating pain from the bite of a small ant. The bite is able to penetrate the skin and even human flesh.

Scientists have known that some of the body parts of small animals that are pierced and slashed are impregnated with metals such as zinc and manganese, making the parts tough and durable.

Now, a study published Sept. 1 in Scientific Reports shows how these tool-like appendages form a tough and extremely sharp cutting edge.

Robert Schofield, a physicist at the University of Oregon at Eugene, and his colleagues used a special microscope to examine the sharp “teeth” that line the jaws of leaf-cutting ants called Atta cephalotes. The study revealed the atomic structure of the ant’s teeth.

The team found that the zinc atoms were distributed homogeneously, rather than in chunks, across the teeth. “This uniformity allows the ants to grow blades that are much thinner and sharper, because the bits of mineral limit how sharp the tool is,” Schofield said.

The team also tested a range of properties for these metal-containing materials, known as heavy element biomaterials, among the teeth of ants, spider fangs, scorpion stings and the jaws of marine worms.

They are stiffer in structure and more resistant to damage than biomineral materials, such as the calcium phosphate normally found in teeth or the combination of calcium carbonate and the protein chitin in many arthropod shells.

“Metal-enriched body parts have the kind of properties you want in a knife or needle,” says Schofield.

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