Squid Teeth is the New Plastic

Ella Estopare, Online Editor & Columnist

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Plastics kill over 100,000 marine animals per year, according to Ocean Crusaders. For decades, humankind has been polluting the fertile earth we live on with harsh substances such as lead, carbon monoxide and harmful chemicals that destroy ecosystems. None of these compare to the levels of damage that plastic has inflicted on the environment for over one hundred years. Plastic, in context of pollution, is often associated with the pollution of oceans. However, what many people don’t know is that plastic affects several different aspects of the earth that we can’t see. As plastic degrades – which can take many years – it emits greenhouse gases that can lead to global warming and pollute our air.

The entire population on Earth uses an unimaginable amount of plastic, and Ocean Crusaders reports that about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic ultimately end up in the oceans. Companies and governments worldwide have tried to find solutions to this generation’s plastic problem, but their attempts have had little success or have even been futile. All seemed lost until scientists from Penn State University found a solution within the oceans itself, on the arms of squids.

The material that the Penn State University scientists discovered was the ring teeth of squid. The squid use these teeth to firmly grasp prey and pull it into their mouths, but the lead researcher of the project believes humans can utilize them as well — to replace plastic all together.  Not only is the newly discovered material biodegradable, it also possesses self-healing, electrical conductive and thermal properties. The material can be crafted into flexible smart-fabrics that can restore themselves and even be used as biomedical devices.

The next thing that many people want to know is if the product is sustainable; can we safely farm this material without harming the squid population? The answer is yes. At Penn State University, scientists are already synthetically recreating the material.

The ringed teeth of squid might be the solution that saves us from a plastic ruled future. Gone will be the days of polluting our oceans and other ecosystems with the toxic plastics of today.