BOB HIRSHON (host):
Sea urchin home improvement. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Sea urchins are a common sight in tide pools wordlwide. Many inhabit rounded cavities within the rock that fit them like a glove. Now, researchers report in the journal PLOS ONE that the spiky creatures can efficiently bore these holes themselves with their five super-sharp teeth.
MIKE RUSSELL (Villanova University):
And these five teeth are constantly rasping and chewing. And one of the amazing things about the teeth is that they are self-sharpening and regenerating.
Villanova University marine ecologist Mike Russell and his team brought purple sea urchins into the lab and measured their pit-scraping efficiency on four different types of rock over the course of a year. They estimate that while an industrious urchin could potentially carve out a sandstone hideaway in less than five years, granite would take at least several generations of urchins. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.
Story by Susanne Bard