How can the cracks in the Brazil nut fruit function as toughening mechanisms, resulting in an extraordinary protective capsule?

Science / Life Sciences

Biomimetic studies attempt to identify, understand and apply strategies developed by nature over billions of years of evolution to solve current problems. The fruit of the Brazil nut, popularly known as hedgehog, is a remarkable biological capsule that evolved to protect the seeds against predators and falls from up to 50 meters high. Studies of this hedgehog’s microstructure and mechanical behaviour can inspire new materials with high mechanical strength, tenacity and low density. The most exciting thing is that the hedgehog has numerous cracks, voids or defects throughout its thickness. It’s as if this fruit that is so difficult to open is already naturally broken. Is there a way to distribute cracks and defects throughout a structure in a way that improves mechanical performance rather than compromising it?

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