The structure and mechanical behavior of Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco) and Wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) beaks were examined. The structure of Toco toucan and Wreathed hornbill beak was found to be a sandwich composite with an exterior of keratin and a fibrous bony network of closed cells made of trabeculae. A distinctive feature of the hornbill beak is its casque formed from cornified keratin layers. The casque is believed to have an acoustic function due to the complex internal structure. The toucan and hornbill beaks have a hollow region that extends from proximal to mid-section. The rhamphotheca is comprised of super-posed polygonal scales (45 mum diameter and 1 mum thickness) fixed by some organic adhesive. The branched intermediate filaments embedded in keratin matrix were discovered by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The diameter of intermediate laments was ~10 nm. The orientation of intermediate filaments was examined with TEM tomography and the branched filaments were homogeneously distributed. The closed-cell foam is comprised of the fibrous structure of bony struts with an edge connectivity of three or four and the cells are sealed off by the thin membranes. The volumetric structure of bird beak foam was reproduced by computed tomography for finite element modeling.
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