The alligator gar is a pretty fearsome predator, but it may actually end up helping to keep people from getting hurt. Led by Francois Barthelat, scientists at Montreal's McGill University have developed a protective ceramic coating for work gloves, inspired by the fish's scales.
Over a five-year period of studying fish scales (particularly those of the gar), the researchers were able to identify a set of critical mechanisms in the way those scales deform, slide against one another, and fracture. Among other things, they learned that fish scales are the toughest collagen-based material known, and that small scales are actually harder to pierce than larger ones.
Using computer modelling techniques, they then set out to determine the optimal size, shape, arrangement and overlap of ceramic tiles needed to match that performance while remaining flexible. The resulting glove-protecting layer (a sample of which is seen above) is claimed to be far more resistant to piercing than an unadorned elastomer glove.
A paper on the McGill research was recently published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.
Source: McGill University