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 New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>