walking along


You probably looked at this photo and thought, “Oh, look at those cute little guys.”

Hah! They are not guys. Well, they may not be guys. Or, rather, some of them were probably guys earlier. What I mean is, limpets are hermaphroditic. Really. They become male at around nine months, but after a couple of years they figure it all out and become female. Who can blame them? Anyway, these cute little guys…well, let’s call them gastropods, because that’s what they are…these cute little gastropods have teeth that are…okay, wait. Yes, limpets have teeth. Of course they have teeth. You can’t just lick algae off stone, can you. My point, if you can call it that, is this: limpet teeth are the strongest biological material known to science.

Seriously. Some scientists tested it. I wouldn’t make that up. But wait, there’s more. They have lots of teeth. Over a hundred rows of teeth. Not only that, but those teeth? They’re arranged like a conveyor belt. They only use the outermost ten rows of teeth to scrape food off the stones they live on. But scraping food off stone, as we all know, is hard on a gastropod’s teeth. So as the teeth in front wear out, the teeth in the back move forward.

So look at this photo again. These are not just cute little guys. They are hermaphroditic gastropods with a hundred rows of teeth made of the strongest biological material known to science. Still cute, though.

Blog photograph copyrighted to the photographer and used with permission by utata.org. All photographs used on utata.org are stored on flickr.com and are obtained via the flickr API. Text is copyrighted to the author, greg fallis and is used with permission by utata.org. Please see Show and Share Your Work