Scientists from the University of Oxford and Fudan University, Shanghai, have invented a way to create fake rhino horn using horse hair.
Published in Scientific Reports they hope their method will provide a blueprint to create credible fakes that could eventually flood a market which has decimated the wild rhino population.
In Chinese medicine rhino horn is believed to have many benefits, including working as an aphrodisiac. In reality the sellers are often cutting the horn with ground up Viagra. Whatever the exact hidden blend may be, the undimmed demand for rhino horn continues to drive poaching with devastating effect for the few populations left in the wild. This study aims to provide a way to confuse and thus hopefully diminish the demand for real rhino horns by showing a way to a vastly cheaper copy that can be used to infiltrate the market.
The horn of the rhinoceros is not a horn in the traditional sense like the horn of a cow or the nail of a hoof, though it does share some material properties. The rhino’s horn is actually a tuft of hair that grows, tightly packed and glued together by exudates from sebaceous glands, on the nose of the animal.
In this proof of concept, the scientists bundled together tail hairs of the rhino’s near relative, the horse, and glued them together with a bespoke matrix of regenerated silk to mimic the collagenous component of the real horn. This approach allowed them to fabricate sample structures that were confusingly similar to real rhino horn in look, feel and properties. Analytical studies demonstrated similarities in composition and properties with natural and the faux horns.
Rhino survival is critically challenged by the trade in its horn and other horn substitutes are being developed in the hope to undermine the market in this much sought after – if generally banned commodity. The authors of this study believe that it is important that plausible copies should be simple to produce while being very similar in both structure and chemical composition. And tail hairs from horses, glued together with a silk-based filler, seem to fulfil this condition. Importantly, this bio-composite is easily moulded into a rhino horn copy with a microstructure that, when cut and polished, is remarkably similar to that of the real horn.Co-lead author, Professor Fritz Vollrath, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology, said: ‘It appears from our investigation that it is rather easy as well as cheap to make a bio-inspired hornlike material that mimics the rhino’s extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair. We leave it to others to develop this technology further with the aim to confuse the trade, depress prices and thus support rhino conservation.’
Co-author, Ruixin Mi, from the Department of Macromolecular Science, Fudan University, said: ‘Our study demonstrates that materials science can contribute to fundamental issues in biology and conservation. The fundamental structure of the rhino horn is a highly evolved and tough fibre reinforced bio-composite and we hope that our attempts to copy it will not only undermine the trade in rhino horn but might also find uses as a novel bio-inspired material.’
The Latest on: Endangered species
[google_news title=”” keyword=”endangered species” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Endangered species
- Fish & Wildlife lists lesser prairie chicken as 'endangered'on November 17, 2022 at 8:44 pm
Almost 18 months after proposing listings and almost six months after its deadline, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued its decision to list the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered ...
- Lesser Prairie Chickens Gain Protection Under U.S. Endangered Species Acton November 17, 2022 at 7:19 pm
Two populations of the chicken, which are a type of grouse, will be listed under the Endangered Species Act, providing the species federal protection when the rule takes effect in January, the ...
- We created the world’s first donkey embryo using IVF in a bid to save species from extinctionon November 17, 2022 at 5:41 pm
Seven of the 28 European domestic breeds are critically endangered and 20 are endangered. Populations of wild donkey species are also dwindling. There are several reasons for this. People are using ...
- Rare Pigeon Species Rediscovered in Papua New Guinea After 140 Yearson November 17, 2022 at 3:46 pm
A rare pigeon species was documented for the first time in 140 years ... Doka Nason/American Bird Conservancy RELATED: Rare Endangered Whooping Crane Hatches at Virginia Conservation Institute The ...
- Lesser Prairie Chicken Protected Under Endangered Species Acton November 17, 2022 at 12:49 pm
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— In a victory for lesser prairie chickens, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it would protect the iconic grassland bird under the Endangered Species Act. Two ...
- How a rare plant species could hinder a proposed lithium mineon November 17, 2022 at 11:04 am
Skyrocketing demand for lithium has developers planning Nevada's next mining boom, but a rare wildflower may stymie one project.
- A new owl species was discovered, and it may already be critically endangeredon November 17, 2022 at 11:00 am
Researchers say there is between 1,000 and 1,500 of them within the area’s old-growth forests, and since all of them are concentrated in one place, they have proposed the species is classified as ...
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Acton November 17, 2022 at 10:27 am
Read Less ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KFOR) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is listing two Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
- Cambodian wildlife official among 8 charged with smuggling endangered monkeyson November 17, 2022 at 4:52 am
A Cambodian wildlife official and seven others were charged with smuggling endangered monkeys. The men are accused of illegally purchasing wild macaques for a breeding operation.
- Moving endangered species in order to save themon November 17, 2022 at 3:11 am
Scientists have long warned that climate change and other threats will require relocating some endangered species outside their historic ranges. Now, U.S. officials are proposing rules that would ...
via Bing News