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!
Proteins with different evolutionary histories now do the same job
21.06.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
20.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences