Scientists Have Discovered How Bloodworms Make Their Unique Copper-Containing Jaws

Bloodworm Jaw and Teeth
Bloodworms are known for their unusual fang-like jaws, which are made of protein, melanin, and concentrations of copper not found elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Scientists have observed how these worms use copper harvested from marine sediments to form their jaws, and the process, described in research published in the journal Matter on April 25, 2022, may be even more unusual than the jaws themselves. Because the worms only form their jaws once, they need to be strong and tough enough to last the entirety of the animal’s five-year lifespan. They use them to bite prey, sometimes puncturing straight through an exoskeleton, and injecting venom that paralyzes victims. The open-access Matter article is titled “A Multi-Tasking Polypeptide from Bloodworm Jaws: Catalyst, Template, and Copolymer in Film Formation.”
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