The cuticular exoskeleton of arthropods not only serves the support and protection of the animal but also comprises a variety of tools and sensors. Although built of the same building blocks as the rest of the cuticle these tools and sensory organs often show specific multiscale architectural and compositional gradients. These in turn govern the local materials´ properties, supporting the adaptation of these structures to their specific biological functions.
Among the different cuticular structures of the spider Cupiennius salei we study tools like the cheliceral fangs and tarsal claws and mechanosensors such as the slit sensilla. Our goal is to gain understanding on how cuticle composition and structural properties contribute to a specific functions. We use a variety of structural and spectroscopic methods and correlate our findings with local mechanical properties of the material. They may also help to elucidate principles aiding the design of bio-inspired new materials, embedded sensors and various technical tools.