Limpets

Like most animals, the limpet (marine mollusc species of the genus Patella) has teeth and a tongue as part of the mouth:

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The tongue with its tiny teeth scrapes food off rocks and into the mouth, and it often swallows particles of rock in the process. The teeth are made of a mineral-protein composite, which has recently been tested in the laboratory.

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In the latest edition of Royal Society Interface, A Barber reports that limpets’ teeth consist of the strongest biological material ever tested. He suggests that the secret to the material’s strength is the thinness of its tightly packed mineral fibres – a discovery that could help improve the man-made composites used to build aircraft, cars and boats, as well as dental fillings.

In 1831, Sarah Hoare wrote: Poems on Conchology and Botany, strong statements of Victorian confidence give a different spin on the limpet’s adhesive strength:

Patella to the rock adheres,

Not of the raging tempest fears

The most tremendous power;

And though assail’d on every side,

Close to the guardian will abide,

Her strength, her fortress, and her pride,

Her never failing tower.