Scales of integument of the Kenyan sand boa minimize abrasive damage by having a gradient in the material properties.

“The aim of this study was to compare material properties of the outer and inner scale layers of the exuvium [discarded skin after shedding] of Gongylophis colubrinus, to relate the structure of the snake integument to its mechanical properties. The nanoindentation experiments have demonstrated that the outer scale layers are harder, and have a higher effective elastic modulus than the inner scale layers. The results obtained provide strong evidence about the presence of a gradient in the material properties of the snake integument. The possible functional significance of this gradient is discussed here as a feature minimizing damage to the integument during sliding locomotion on an abrasive surface, such as sand.” (Klein et al. 2010:659)

Last Updated August 18, 2016