Enamel-like apatite crown covering amorphous mineral in a crayfish mandible

Shmuel Bentov, Paul Zaslansky, Ali Al-Sawalmih, Admir Masic, Peter Fratzl, Amir Sagi, Amir Berman, Barbara Aichmayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbonated hydroxyapatite is the mineral found in vertebrate bones and teeth, whereas invertebrates utilize calcium carbonate in their mineralized organs. In particular, stable amorphous calcium carbonate is found in many crustaceans. Here we report on an unusual, crystalline enamel-like apatite layer found in the mandibles of the arthropod Cherax quadricarinatus (freshwater crayfish). Despite their very different thermodynamic stabilities, amorphous calcium carbonate, amorphous calcium phosphate, calcite and fluorapatite coexist in well-defined functional layers in close proximity within the mandible. The softer amorphous minerals are found primarily in the bulk of the mandible whereas apatite, the harder and less soluble mineral, forms a wear-resistant, enamel-like coating of the molar tooth. Our findings suggest a unique case of convergent evolution, where similar functional challenges of mastication led to independent developments of structurally and mechanically similar, apatite-based layers in the teeth of genetically remote phyla: vertebrates and crustaceans.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number839
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 17 Oct 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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