Materials in Today's World

Natural Polymers


DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), proteins, sugar, starches, and carbohydrates are some examples of natural polymers used by plants and animals. The corresponding monomers for these polymers are listed in the table below. In addition to these important to life polymers, natural polymers derived from plants and animals have been used by humans for many centuries. These include wood, cotton, leather, rubber, wool, and silk. One of the oldest known uses of polymers is depicted in the picture below. The Incas of South America used rubber balls in some of their competitions. In the next sections, we will begin to discuss human-made polymers known as plastics.

Polymers and Corresponding Monomers
Polymer Monomer
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) nucleotides
Proteins amino acids
Sugar, Starches, Carbohydrates glucose
An ulama player in action in Sinaloa. Player jumping to kick or hit incoming ball
An ulama player in action in Sinaloa.
Credit: Manuel Aguilar-Moreno / CSULA Ulama Project (Manuel Aguilar) [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons