Don't mess with porcupine...
messing with spiny animals usually doesn't end well, and in the middle, North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) seems particularly difficult to deal with. For example, with a simple search, you can find a lot of pet dogs who fought with porcupines and were sieved. Each picture looks miserable in uppercase.
(it all looks painful, so there's only one picture here. If you search "dog porcupine", you will find a lot of worse things than this. Photo Source: ceemoravec/Instagram)
Why do you always go home with thorns all over your face when you mess with these porcupines? This is not only because porcupine thorns are sharp, but also because they have many thorns (about 30000). A very important reason is that the tip of a North American porcupine has a barb, and it is easy to pierce into the skin, but once it is inserted into the barb, it will get stuck in the tissue, and it takes more effort and pain to pull the thorn out than a smooth thorn.
(the close-up of the North American porcupine thorn in the Deep look video is another picture that looks very painful. The electron microscope below shows the microstructure of the porcupine thorn in North America. You can see that there are many small and slightly raised scale-like structures on the black tip of the thorn. This is the barb of the thorn. On the other hand, the white part behind the spike is only covered with an ordinary smooth scale structure. This barb structure is not found in many other prickly animals, such as hedgehogs, echidna or African porcupines, which have smooth thorns.
(figure A shows porcupine thorns on the right and needles as control on the left. (photo Source: Woo Kyung Cho et al)
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in a study published in 2012, researchers not only looked at the microstructure of porcupine thorns above, but also actually measured the forces required to pierce various spikes into the skin (pigskin) and pull them out. In addition to barbed North American porcupine thorns, they also used North American porcupine thorns without barbs, another smooth African porcupine thorn, and injection needles of about the same diameter as the control group. The results show that the force required to remove the barb thorn is much greater than that of other cases, and the barb thorn requires the least force. In other words, this kind of thorn is easy to stick in and the hardest to pull out. It is not difficult to understand why dogs who fight with porcupines come home with thorns all over their bodies.
in addition to the porcupine itself, the scientists who carried out this study also want to use this barb structure. For example, if the skin nail used in surgery to close the incision is replaced with a barbed structure and a material that can be degraded over a period of time, it should be easy to use and secure without having to go through the difficulty of removal. But this is just an idea at the moment.
the study mentioned in the article: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/52/21289
Picture: a North American porcupine is actually quite cute if you don't mess with it.
Source: National Park Service