1st century Greek statue may aid in development of "biofouling" resistant metals

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Washington, August 8 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have said that an ancient first century B.C. Greek statue, discovered off the coast of Croatia in 1998, may help researchers develop metals that are more resistant to "biofouling," the accumulation of critters that can eat away at ships' hulls.

The full statue is an example of a common pose in ancient Greek art: an athlete scraping dust and sweat from his body with a small, curved tool.

The front of the 6.2-foot-tall (1.9-meter-tall) statue was found encrusted with 1.2 to 1.9 inches (3 to 5 centimeters) of biomineralizing organisms, creatures such as tubeworms, clams, and barnacles that form their own hard shells.

Underneath the biological crust, the corroded metal had taken on otherworldly hues.

"The color is related to the formation of green copper oxides on the statue, while the red coloration of the lips is due to a pure tin metal inlay in the bronze," said Davorin Medakovic, of the Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb.

Croatian scientists restoring the statue said that the once crusty athlete can offer clues to how marine organisms absorb metals to form minerals for their shells.

Even creatures not in direct contact with the figure's surface took up some of its metals, Medakovic's team noted in their study.

What's more, the study "has shown the huge impact and disruption that this metal uptake had on the organisms' metabolic pathways, and that caused the distressed organisms to produce untypical minerals in their shells," Medakovic said.

Living on a steady diet of copper and tin, the organisms on the statue had "digested" the metals to produce shells with unusual ratios of magnesium calcite and aragonite, for example, as well as traces of feldspar and quartz.

According to Medakovic, knowing which metals mess up the creatures' digestion could help researchers develop metals that are more resistant to "biofouling," the accumulation of barnacles and other critters that can eat away at ships' hulls. (ANI)

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