Scientists make fake rhino horn from horsehair in an attempt to deter poaching from endangered species to feed the Chinese medicine trade
- Ponytail hairs were glued together with silk fabrics around the & # 39; horn & # 39; to make
- Nephorns are designed to confuse buyers and reduce the demand for real horns
- It is believed in Chinese medicine that rhino horn has aphrodisiac properties
Scientists have made a fake rhino horn from horsehair, trying to stop poachers hunting the endangered species.
The fake horns, made by researchers from the University of Oxford, are designed to confuse buyers and reduce the demand for real rhino horns by showing that a much cheaper specimen can infiltrate the market.
In Chinese medicine, rhino horn is believed to have many benefits – including working as an aphrodisiac.
Despite the fact that the crushed horn is often crushed with Viagra, the demand for rhino horn remains undiminished, and it continues to poach with devastating consequences for the few populations left in the wild.
Rhino brought to life, shows both the length and the cross-sections of slivers of its horn. In Chinese medicine, rhino horn is believed to have many benefits – including working as an aphrodisiac
Rhino horn is not built in the same way as a cow's horn, but it does have some of the same material properties.
In fact, the horn of a rhino is actually a tuft of hair that grows, tightly packaged, and glued together by a fluid that seeps out of glands on the animal's nose.
To make the horns, the scientists bundled the tail hairs of horses – a close relative of the rhino – and glued them together with a custom-made mesh of regenerated silk.
The result was a horn that was strikingly similar to the real appearance, feel and composition.
There are only 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild while being slaughtered for their horns to be used in Chinese medicine
Co-lead author Professor Fritz Vollrath, of Oxford's Department of Zoology, said: "Our research shows that it is fairly simple and inexpensive to make a bio-inspired horny material that extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair from the rhino mimics.
"We leave it to others to further develop this technology with the aim of confusing trade, pushing down prices and thus supporting the conservation of rhinos."
The rhino horn trade is critically challenging the survival of one of the most endangered animals on earth and the counterfeits are being developed in the hope that they will undermine the market for commodities.
The authors of the study believe that plausible copies should be easy to produce and comparable in structure and chemical composition to the original.
They discovered that the tail hairs of horses end with a microstructure that when cut and polished is remarkably similar to that of a real horn.
Co-author Ruixin Mi, of the Department of Macromolecular Science at Fudan University, added: "Our study shows that material science can contribute to fundamental issues in biology and conservation.
"The fundamental structure of the rhino horn is a highly developed and tough fiber-reinforced biocomposite and we hope that our attempts to copy it not only undermine the trade in rhino horn, but may also be used as new bio-inspired material."
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