Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mechanical properties and microstructure of cranial and beak bones of the woodpecker and the lark

10.04.2012
The bio-mechanisms of the woodpecker's resistance to head impact injury are an interesting scientific question.

Professor FAN Yubo and his group from the Key Laboratory for Biomechanics and Mechanobiology of the Ministry of Education, School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering, Beihang University, and the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Wuhan University of Technology, set out to study this problem.


These are SEM images of the cranial bone and beak bone of the great spotted woodpecker and the lark Cranial bone of (a) woodpecker and (b) lark; beak of (c) woodpecker and (d) lark. Credit: © Science China Press

After 3 years of innovative research, they are making progress in uncovering the explanation for the avoidance of head impact injury by woodpeckers. Their work, entitled "Comparative study of the mechanical properties, micro-structure, and composition of the cranial and beak bones of the great spotted woodpecker and the lark bird", was published in SCIENCE CHINA Life Sciences, 2011, Vol. 54 (11).

Head injury, caused by a sudden impact or by a change in the linear or angular velocity of the head, is a leading cause of morbidity and death in both industrialized and developing countries. It is estimated that brain injuries account for 15% of the overall burden of fatalities and disabilities and are the leading cause of death in young adults. Woodpeckers clearly are adapted to managing impact forces, allowing them to peck rapidly without incurring brain or eye injury. This ability has attracted wide attention not only by ornithologists and biologists but also by researchers in the mechanical and electronic sciences. Previous studies suggested that impact injury to the brain might be avoided by powerful muscles, or by drilling behavior, or by a special orientation of the brain within the skull compared with humans. However, there have been few systematic analyses of the properties of woodpecker's skull.

Therefore, to understand how woodpeckers are adapted to pecking at high-speeds and frequency, the group carried out a comparative study of the mechanical properties, microstructure and composition of the cranial bone and beak of this bird, which represent remarkable examples of nanofabrication and self-assembly, perfected by natural evolution over millions of years.

The ultimate strength of woodpecker's cranial bone was found to be markedly higher than that of the lark. In contrast, there was no significant difference between the two birds in the ultimate strengths of their beaks. More plate-like spongy bone was present in the cranial bone of the woodpecker, while the cranium of the lark contained more rod-like structures. It appears that the mechanical properties and microstructure are closely linked. The larger number of plate-like structures, greater thickness and numbers of trabeculae, and the closer spacing between individual trabeculae in the woodpecker cranial bone would tend to resist deformation during pecking, which would decrease the stress on the brain. Conversely, the greater quantity of rod-like structures and thinner trabeculae of the woodpecker's beak would lead to greater deformation during impact. As the impact load is absorbed and distributed primarily by the beak, its transmission to the brain would be decreased. Together these parameters combine to produce quite similar ultimate strengths of the beaks of the woodpecker and the lark.

It was concluded that, compared with the lark, the cranial bone of the woodpecker achieves a higher ultimate strength and resistance to impact injury as a result of its unique microstructure, including more plate-like trabecular bone, greater thickness, greater numbers and closer spacing of trabeculae, and a higher proportion of bone mineral. These distinctive mechanical and structural properties, and compositions, of the cranial and beak bones of the woodpecker provide excellent resistance to head impact injury at a high speed and deceleration. Such information may perhaps inspire the design and optimization of protective headgear for humans.

See the article: WANG L Z, ZHANG H Q, and FAN Y B. Comparative study of the mechanical properties, micro-structure, and composition of the cranial and beak bones of the great spotted woodpecker and the lark bird. SCI CHINA Life Sci, 2011, 54(11):1036-1041.

Fan Yubo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.buaa.edu.cn

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified

05.12.2016 | Information Technology

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>