Crushing Experience

The cownose stingray builds strong jaws with minerals

02-01-1999 // NWF Staff

How does a cownose stingray, with no bones in its jaws, chomp on hard-shelled prey such as mussels and snails? In the same way a fossilized animal becomes hard as rock: with minerals, reports biologist Adam Summers of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The stingray, however, somehow deposits the minerals as a strong coating around its jaws and into columns that act as reinforcing struts within its jaw cartilage for crushing hard prey. Summers┬┤ discovery marks the first time an animal has been found using mineralization deep in its cartilage for structural purposes.

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