Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Analysis of Salamander Jump Reveals an Unexpected Twist

23.01.2014
Citations Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology symposium

A small, secretive creature with unlikely qualifications for defying gravity may hold the answer to an entirely new way of getting off the ground.

Salamanders—or at least several species of the Plethodontidae family—can do something humans would like to know a lot more about.

“This particular jump is unique in the world,” said graduate researcher Anthony Hessel. “That’s why I think a lot of people are finding this very interesting.”

The Northern Arizona University student calls the move a “hip-twist jump” that powers a “flat catapult,” describing the biomechanics in language the public can access. But the work has caught the attention of a highly technical crowd.

Hessel, who studies muscle physiology and biomechanics, recalled the moment he fully grasped the reach of his findings. An email from a premier journal reached him over the holiday break with the subject line “Science is interested in your work.” The contact arose from his presentation at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology symposium. There will likely be more who are interested.

“It’s a new way to get vertical lift for animals,” Hessel said. “Something that is flat on the ground, that is not pushing directly down on the ground, can still get up in the air. I’d say that hundreds of engineers will now toy with the idea and figure out what cool things can be built from it.”

Hessel used high-speed film, a home-built cantilever beam apparatus, some well-established engineering equations and biomechanical analysis to produce the details of how a slippery little amphibian with short legs can propel itself six to 10 times its body length into the air.

The key is that the salamander’s legs don’t provide the push that most creatures would require.

“They transfer energy from their torso into the ground in a very special way,” Hessel said. “It’s all about how the energy is transferred into the ground efficiently.”

In describing the movement frame-by-frame from the high-speed film, Hessel said the salamander bends its body, then rapidly pushes that bend—a “C” shape, down through the torso—and this movement can “create a lot of elastic energy.”

“One of the interesting things about the salamander is that the mechanism moves the center of mass in a way that allows this really inefficient-looking mechanism to have a lot of efficiency,” Hessel said.

The next stage of the research is “getting down to the structures of the stiffness properties,” Hessel said. “When you see that there’s more power in the jump that can come from the muscles, then you know there are other places where you have to look, like stored elastic energy, connective tissue stretching and bones moving.”

One of those factors may be the protein titin, an active loader mechanism that is the focus of research by Hessel’s mentor, Regents’ Professor Kiisa Nishikawa. Her interdisciplinary lab group has provided valuable input throughout the project, Hessel said.

For now, the student from Long Island, N.Y., will write and publish his findings to complete his master’s degree, with plans to pursue a doctorate at NAU. Although the salamanders he brought with him from Allegheny College, his undergraduate institution, are not making a return trip to Pennsylvania, the same species is being studied at a lab there to continue the research, which Hessel will oversee himself this summer.

Eric Dieterle | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.nau.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>