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Evolving with skin stronger than bone

  1. May 10, 2015 #1
    Is it possible for an organism to evolve with skin stronger than bone? theoretically? As in, a humanoid only instead of strong bones, it has strong skin? Would that make sense biologically?

    Thank you for any aid!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2015 #2
    I don't know about a humanoid, but this is part of the survival strategy of many insects. It's called an exoskeleton.
  4. May 10, 2015 #3
    Technically though is not the exoskeleton a skeleton? Just its on the outside rather than inside?
  5. May 10, 2015 #4
    Yes, and it serves as their skin. This is what you were, asking no? Whether an organism can evolve with a strong skin to support its form rather than an internal skeleton?
  6. May 10, 2015 #5
    Aye I suppose, when I say skin i was thinking of like human skin, I was wondering if something would have human skin with similiar properties to skin, e.g. a rubbery/elastic healing substance that has higher tensile strength/pressure resistance than bone.

    Like would it be possible for a persons endoskeleton to evolve softer than their skin, which would be comparatively harder to bone? Would said entity injure itself upon moving because would its skin, if stronger than bone and muslce rip those tendons and what not on movement?

    Sorry for weird question, just something I was thinking of.
  7. May 10, 2015 #6
    I'm not sure it is possible to have any material that is softer than skin and harder than bone. This is like saying it is more dense than steel but less dense than water.
  8. May 10, 2015 #7
    So if humans constantly physically evolved and a byproduct of that was their skin was tougher, eventually would bones have to grow to support the toughness of the skin?
  9. May 10, 2015 #8
    I don't know. It depends on the requirements of their environments. I don't see evolving tougher skin as practical, as it would limit mobility.

    Pick up a copy of Campbell's "Biology" if you would like to explore the topic more seriously.
  10. May 10, 2015 #9
    Thanks Crador, may well do that and thank you again for your aid.
  11. May 10, 2015 #10


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    Staff: Mentor

    Well, just look at turtles, armadillos, and other similar animals. It certainly appears that this could happen given the right circumstances. I'm not sure the skin would retain all the properties you're asking about, as the it would need to resist deformation enough to support the person's wait. It's hard to make good load bearing structures out of material that has high elasticity.

    Evolution isn't going to evolve a species who injure themselves just by moving, so no, that's not going to happen. (At least, not by natural selection)
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