High resolution atomic force microscopy (AFM) images of bovine trabecular bone fracture surfaces reveal individual fibrils coated with extrafibrillar mineral particles. The mineral particles are distinctly different in different regions. In some regions the particles have average dimensions of (70 ± 35) nm along the fibrils and about half that across the fibrils. In other regions they are smaller and rounder, of order (53 ± 14) nm both along and across the fibrils. In other regions they are smaller and rounder, of order (25 ± 15) nm both along and across the fibrils, with more rounded top surfaces.
Significantly, we rarely observed bare collagen fibrils. If the observed particles can be verified to be native extrafibrillar mineral, this could imply that the fractures which created the observed areas propagated within the mineralized extrafibrillar matrix.