HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new study by British scientists claims that the strongest natural material on Earth is the tiny teeth of opihi.
The University of Portsmouth study found that the amount of weight opihi teeth can withstand is comparable to a strand of spaghetti holding up a hippopotamus, about five times the strength of most spider silks.
The secret is in the size of their fibers, which are 1/100th the diameter of a human hair.
A Hawaii researcher said the new findings mean it may not be such a good idea to gorge on the seafood.
"When you're eating opihi, you tend to typically expose the radula, which is the ribbon that contains all these teeth with the hardest or the strongest biological material on Earth," said Chris Bird, researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. "When you eat a lot of opihi, you have a lot of the radula that are going to be tearing at the linings of your stomach and intestine as your body processes the opihi."
However, Bird assures that people would have to eat a lot of it for it to become a health problem.
The study also said opihi teeth could help engineers build stronger planes, boats and cars, a process called "bioinspiration."