Researchers have figured out how a jumbo squid's hard, razor-sharp beak can slice through the soft tissue of its prey--without tearing off from the stress. The work solves a longstanding mystery over a problem akin to anchoring a knife blade in Jell-O, according to the authors of the new study. using Seed support from the MRL at UCSB, Herb Waite and Frank Zok were able to show that the beak exhibited an overall stiffness gradient that differs a hundredfold from beak tip to base. Though rigid at its cutting end, the beak gradually becomes softer and more flexible as it approached the soft muscle tissue. The findings offer a potential solution for the longtime engineering struggle to attach mechanically mismatched materials.