The mechanical properties of skin are important factors in everything from forensic science to razor blade design. And yet studies that have actually measured these properties are few and far between, most research in this area being done on synthetic or animal skin.
Today, Aisling Nı Annaidh at University College Dublin in Ireland and a few pals right this wrong with a detailed analysis of the mechanical properties of 56 pieces of skin removed from dead humans. In the process, these guys have settled a debate about the nature of skin strength that has puzzled anatomists since the 19th century.
The first detailed study of skin strength was carried out in the 1860s by Karl Langer, an Austrian anatomist working in Vienna.