Structures, structural hierarchy and function in sea urchin spines

Stuart R Stock*, T. A. Ebert, K. Ignatiev, F. De Carlo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Sea urchin spines protect the animal's body from predators and from the effect of high energy environments. The spines of urchins from different orders, families and genera have very different sizes, morphologies and microarchitectures, and the different designs of sea urchin spines reveal much about the design space available for functional biogenic calcite-based structures. The 3D microarchitecture of primary spines of a number of sea urchins was studied with synchrotron microCT and reconstructed with 5 μm or smaller voxels (volume elements), and similarities and differences were determined in order to better understand the design space. Hollow spines from different genera of the family Diadematidae, order Diadematoida, are one type of solution, but significant differences were observed within this phylogenic subset. Spines from members of order Echinoidea, family Toxopneustidae, employ a very different strategy, one that emphasizes interconnected trabeculae to a greater degree than do the diadematids. Numerical data for some 3D structural characteristics are presented, data that would be impractical to obtain by methods other than microCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography V
StatePublished - 2006
EventDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography V - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 15 2006Aug 17 2006

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography V
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Biomineralization
  • Sea urchin
  • Spine
  • Structural hierarchy
  • Synchrotron radiation
  • X-ray absorption microCT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biomaterials


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