Cuttlebone, also known as cuttlefish bone, is a hard, brittle internal structure (an internal shell) found in all members of the family Sepiidae, commonly known as cuttlefish, within the cephalopods. In other cephalopod families it is called a gladius.
Cuttlebone is composed primarily of aragonite. It is a chambered, gas-filled shell used for buoyancy control; its siphuncle is highly modified and is on the ventral side of the shell. The microscopic structure of cuttlebone consists of narrow layers connected by numerous upright pillars.
Depending on the species, cuttlebones implode at a depth of 200 to 600 metres (660 to 1,970 ft). Because of this limitation, most species of cuttlefish live on the seafloor in shallow water, usually on the continental shelf.
The largest cuttlebone belongs to Sepia apama, the giant Australian cuttlefish, which lives between the surface and a maximum depth of 100 metres.
In the past, cuttlebones were ground up to make polishing powder, which was used by goldsmiths. The powder was also added to toothpaste, and was used as an antacid for medicinal purposes or as an absorbent. They were also used as an artistic carving medium during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Because cuttlebone is able to withstand high temperatures and is easily carved, it serves as mold-making material for small metal castings for the creation of jewelry and small sculptural objects.[a]
It can also be used in the process of pewter casting, as a mould.
- 3D visualisation of a Sepia cuttlebone by industrial micro-computed tomography
- Flight through the corresponding tomographic image stacks
Flight through the corresponding µCT image stack, section direction about 30°, lateral view.
Flight through the corresponding µCT image stack, section direction about 30°, top view.
Flight through the aligned image stack, lateral view.
Flight through the aligned image stack, top view.
Flight through the aligned image stack, top view, magnified section.
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- Jewelers prepare cuttlebone for use as a mold by cutting it in half and rubbing the two sides together until they fit flush against one another. Then the casting can be done by carving a design into the cuttlebone, adding the necessary sprue, melting the metal in a separate pouring crucible, and pouring the molten metal into the mold through the sprue. Finally, the sprue is sawed off and the finished piece is polished.
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- Norman, M.D. (2000). Cephalopods: A world guide. Conch Books.
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- Ferraz, E.; Gamelas, J.A.F.; Coroado, J.; Monteiro, C.; Rocha, F. (20 July 2020). "Exploring the potential of cuttlebone waste to produce building lime". Materiales de Construcción. 70 (339): 225. doi:10.3989/mc.2020.15819. ISSN 1988-3226.
- Neige, P. (2003). "Combining disparity with diversity to study the biogeographic pattern of Sepiidae" (PDF). Berliner Paläobiologische Abhandlungen. 3: 189–197.