The aquatic world once again proves it worth by shedding some light on the dark mysteries of body armour, robots and flexible electronics.
The characteristically boxy fish has a shell made up of interlocking
hexagonal scales, complete with a raised star-like structure in the
centre that distributes stress across the surface.
After dissecting the
scales, researchers discovered a flexible inner layer of interlocking
collagen fibres that are tough to penetrate.
"The boxfish is small
and yet it survives in the ocean where it is surrounded by bigger,
aggressive fish, at a depth of 50 to 100 meters," said Wen Yang, the lead author of the paper
describing the discovery. "After I touched it, I realised why it can
survive – it is so strong but at the same time so flexible."