Sumary of The mystery of the flexible shell:
- An international research team with participation of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI has revealed a secret about a marine animal’s shell: The researchers have deciphered why the protective cover of the brachiopod Discinisca tenuis becomes extremely soft in water and gets hard again in the air.
- The brachiopod Discinisca tenuis lives on the west coast of Africa.
- With the help of the Swiss Light Source SLS, the researchers have deciphered exactly how this transformation takes place.
- Maggie Cusack, who was recently appointed president of Munster Technological University in Ireland, had provided Nudelman with shells of the brachiopod Discinisca tenuis, which originally came from Namibia.
- “At room temperature it would not have been possible, since the high-energy X-ray light would immediately alter the sensitive shell structure,” Ihli explains.
- Evolutionary advantage Discinisca tenuis lives in large clusters in tidal zones on the coast where, depending on the tide, the animals are exposed to strong waves or calm waters.