Navigation Links
Scientists crack rhino horn riddle

Rhinoceros horns have long been objects of mythological beliefs. Some cultures prize them for their supposed magical or medicinal qualities. Others have used them as dagger handles or good luck charms. But new research at Ohio University removes some of the mystique by explaining how the horn gets its distinctive curve and sharply pointed tip.

Scientists have discovered new details about the structural materials that form the horn and the role those materials play in the development of the horn's characteristic shape.

The horns of most animals have a bony core covered by a thin sheath of keratin, the same substance as hair and nails. Rhino horns are unique, however, because they are composed entirely of keratin. Scientists had been puzzled by the difference, but the Ohio University study now has revealed an interesting clue: dark patches running through the center of the horns.

The team examined the heads of rhinos that died of natural causes and were donated by The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio, and the Phoenix Zoo. Researchers conducted CT scans on the horns at O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens and found dense mineral deposits made of calcium and melanin in the middle.

The calcium deposits make the horn core harder and stronger, and the melanin protects the core from breakdown by the sun's UV rays, the scientists report. The softer outer portion of the horn weakens with sun exposure and is worn into its distinctive shape through horn clashing and by being rubbed on the ground and vegetation. The structure of the rhino horns is similar to a pencil's tough lead core and weaker wood periphery, which allows the horns to be honed to a sharp point.

The study also ends speculation that the horn was simply a clump of modified hair.

"The horns most closely resemble the structure of horses' hoofs, turtle beaks and cockatoo bills. This might be related to the strength of these materials, although more research is n eeded in this area," said Tobin Hieronymus, a doctoral student in biological sciences and lead author on the study.

The study also found that the melanin and calcium patches appear in yearly growth surges but the effects of temperature, diet and stress on the growth are still unknown. The results of the horn growth study may be of interest to conservation groups whose goal is to strengthen rhino populations and reduce the poaching of horn for the black market.

"Ultimately, we think our findings will help dispel some of the folk wisdom attached to the horn. The more we can learn about the horn, the better we can understand and manage rhino populations in the wild and in captivity," said Lawrence Witmer, a professor of anatomy in Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine and director of the project.
'"/>

Source:Ohio University


Related biology news :

1. Scientists ID molecular switch in liver that triggers harmful effects of saturated and trans fats
2. Scientists Replicate Hepatitis C Virus in Laboratory
3. Scientists detect probable genetic cause of some Parkinsons disease cases
4. Scientists find missing enzyme for tuberculosis iron scavenging pathway
5. Scientists seek answers on what activates deadly anthrax spores
6. Yale Scientists Find MicroRNA Regulates Ras Cancer Gene
7. Scientists collaborate to assess health of global environment
8. Scientists decipher genome of fungus that can cause life-threatening infections
9. Scientists discover the cellular roots of graying hair
10. Scientists rid stem cell culture of key animal cells
11. Scientists develop new color-coded test for protein folding

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:11/17/2016)... 17, 2016 Global Market Watch: Primarily ... Banks, Population-Based Banks and Academics) market is to witness a ... Biobanks shows the highest Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of ... during the analysis period 2014-2020. North America ... followed by Europe at 9.56% respectively. ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... 2016  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: SYN), ... the gut microbiome, today announced the pricing of ... its common stock and warrants to purchase 50,000,000 ... to the public of $1.00 per share and ... the offering, excluding the proceeds, if any from ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... , Nov. 14, 2016  Based on ... market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes FST Biometrics ... Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. FST Biometrics ... biometric identification market by pioneering In Motion ... for instant, seamless, and non-invasive verification. This ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... ... cells — optogenetics — is key to exciting advances in the study and ... patterned light projected via free-space optics stimulates small, transparent organisms and excites neurons ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... KBioBox llc announced ... client demand KbioBox developed a sophisticated “3 click” gene dditing off target analysis ... KBioBox’s new website, https://www.kbiobox.com/ and powered by the company’s proprietary ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016 Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix ... developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where ... it will be hosting an Investor Webcast Event Friday, ... origins of innate defense regulators (IDRs) as a new ... mucositis and the recently announced and published Phase 2 ...
(Date:12/8/2016)...   Biocept, Inc . (NASDAQ: ... actionable liquid biopsy tests to improve the management ... its Target Selector™ Circulating Tumor Cell platform demonstrated ... of actionable biomarkers in patients with metastatic breast ... Cannon Research Institute (SCRI), the research arm of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: