If attention to detail and amount of time invested were the sole metrics of performance, the sandcastle worms' elaborate structures would win any building contest. This diminutive worm assembles its home by painstakingly gluing together individual sand grains, shells, and other particles it finds lying around.
The worm grabs particles with its whisker-like tentacles and drags them to its mouth. If it likes what it feels, it dabs the particles with a small amount of homemade glue and adds them to its growing shell. This process of slowly building intricate shells is not unlike the process of reconstituting fractured bones. In both cases, the glue that holds the parts together needs to be non-toxic, impervious to water, and, perhaps most importantly, quick-acting--all criteria that the sandcastle worm's glue meets.
Russell Stewart, a molecular bioengineer at the University of Utah, therefore believes that a synthetic glue that apes the worm glue's strengths could work remarkably well as a bone adhesive. Early tests have already shown that Stewart's glue is non-toxic, biodegradable, and twice as strong as super glue.