The architecture of Recent brachiopod shells: diversity of biocrystal and biopolymer assemblages in rhynchonellide, terebratulide, thecideide and craniide shells
Biological hard tissues are a rich source of design concepts for the generation of advanced materials. They represent the most important library of information on the evolution of life and its environmental conditions. Organisms produce soft and hard tissues in a bottom-up process, a construction principle that is intrinsic to biologically secreted materials. This process emerged early on in the geological record, with the onset of biological mineralization. The phylum Brachiopoda is a marine animal group that has an excellent and continuous fossil record from the early Cambrian to the Recent. Throughout this time interval, the Brachiopoda secreted phosphate and carbonate shells and populated many and highly diverse marine habitats. This required great flexibility in the adaptation of soft and hard tissues to the different marine environments and living conditions. This review presents, juxtaposes and discusses the main modes of mineral and biopolymer organization in Recent, carbonate shell-producing, brachiopods. We describe shell tissue characteristics for taxa of the orders Rhynchonellida, Terebratulida, Thecideida and Craniida. We highlight modes of calcite and organic matrix assembly at the macro-, micro-, and nano-scales based on results obtained by Electron Backscatter Diffraction, Atomic Force Microscopy, Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy and Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy. We show variation in composite hard tissue organization for taxa with different lifestyles, visualize nanometer-scale calcite assemblies for rhynchonellide and terebratulide fibers, highlight thecideide shell microstructure, texture and chemistry characteristics, and discuss the feasibility to use thecideide shells as archives of proxies for paleoenvironment and paleoclimate reconstructions.
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Horizon 2020 Framework Programme