This study concerns the development of damage (as measured by a reduction in elastic modulus) in two kinds of bones differing considerably in their degrees of mineralisation: laminar bone from bovine femur and osteonal bone from red deer antler. Antler bone is much tougher than 'ordinary' bone and its failure properties have been investigated in: (i) monotonic tensile tests and (ii) creep rupture experiments. Tensile fatigue is another way of examining how damage develops in bone. The development of damage in the present fatigue tests was non-linear with the cycle number, the degree of non-linearity was dependent on the level of stress and followed a clearly different course for bone and antler. Antler was a more damage-tolerant material, being able to achieve a reduction in the final modulus of elasticity, just prior to failure, three times greater than 'ordinary' bone. The evolution of damage is quantified by an empirical and a graphical method and by the use of Continuum Damage Mechanics (CDM) expressions. The CDM method shows important conditions, found in antler, but not in bone, that seem necessary for achieving stable fractures and consequently producing very tough materials.
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