Mechanical Design of Structural Materials in Animals
John M. Gosline


Mechanical Design of Structural Materials in Animals explores the principles underlying how molecules interact to produce the functional attributes of biological materials: their strength and stiffness, ability to absorb and store energy, and ability to resist the fatigue that accrues through a lifetime of physical insults. These attributes play a central role in determining the size and shape of animals, the ways in which they can move, and how they interact with their environment. By showing how structural materials have been designed by evolution, John Gosline sheds important light on how animals work.

Gosline elucidates the pertinent theories for how molecules are arranged into macromolecular structures and how those structures are then built up into whole organisms. In particular, Gosline develops the theory of discontinuous, fiber-reinforced composites, which he employs in a grand synthesis to explain the properties of everything from the body wall of sea anemones to spiders' silks and insect cuticles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Although the theories are examined in depth, Gosline's elegant discussion makes them accessible to anyone with an interest in the mechanics of life.

Focusing on the materials from which animals are constructed, this book answers fundamental questions about mechanical properties in nature.

John M. Gosline (1943–2016) was a professor of zoology at the University of British Columbia from 1973 to 2008. He is the coauthor of Mechanical Design in Organisms (Princeton).