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Skin exhibits low friction: sandfish skink


Sandfish / Ltshears / LicensePD - Public Domain

Skin of the sandfish skink exhibits abrasion resistance and low friction when moving through sand due to proteinaceous scales.

"The sandfish is a lizard having the remarkable ability to move in desert sand in a swimming-like fashion. The most outstanding adaptations to this mode of life are the low friction behaviour and the extensive abrasion resistance of the sandfish skin against sand, outperforming even steel. We investigated the topography, the composition and the mechanical properties of sandfish scales. These consist of glycosylated keratins with high amount of sulphur but no hard inorganic material, such as licates or lime." (Baumgartner 2007:1)
About the inspiring organism
Med_768pxsandfish3 Scincus scincus
Scincus scincus LINNAEUS 1758
Common name: Sandfish skink

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: TIGR Reptile Database
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Industrial equipment that needs little or no lubricating oils.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Industrial equipment

Baumgartner, Werner; Saxe, Friederike; Weth, Agnes; Hajas, David; Sigumonrong, Darwin; Emmerlich, Jens; Singheiser, Martin; Bohme, Wolfgang; Schneider, Jochen M. 2007. The Sandfish's Skin: Morphology, Chemistry and Reconstruction. Journal of Bionic Engineering. 4(1): 1-9.
Learn More at Google Scholar Google Scholar  


Login to Post a Comment.
over 3 years ago
A close-up picture or two of the effective aspect of the scales, as well as a view of the microstructure, please.
over 5 years ago
That link doesn't work any more. Here are three videos from Georgia Tech:
over 5 years ago
This comment was removed by a AskNature editor for the following reason:
over 7 years ago
Related story - includes videos of the sandfish burrowing through sand.
1 to 4 of 4 Comments


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