Many animals are able to rapidly extend their tongues to catch prey. In fact, the chameleon extends its tongue at an acceleration rate of 500 metres per second square - generating 5 times the G force experienced by an F-16 fighter during its most demanding maneouvre! New research presented at the Society for Experimental Biology conference in Swansea today has shed light on exactly how these remarkable feats are achieved.
Dr Johan van Leeuwen of Wageningen University, the Netherlands, suggests that these `ballistic movements` are possible due to nature`s remarkable `soft body mechanics`. In research which has studied the bullet-like extension of squid tentacles and snake and chameleon tongues, it has become clear that such movements are possible due to the interaction of muscle fibres and fluid pockets associated with them - the principle constituents of the tongue. Muscle fibres are arranged in a criss-cross pattern, extending up and down and side to side. Co-contraction of these fibres - squeezing the tongue to make it thinner and narrower - pressurises the fluid pockets of the tongue, forcing them to expand rapidly forwards extending the tongue or tentacle. Using high speed filming and mathematical techniques Dr Leeuwen has developed a computer model which effectively predicts the projected pathway of tongues and tentacles.
The actual construction of these muscle fibres are very different from our own. At a molecular level, the human tongue musculature consists of a series of actin and myosin filaments which slide over one another to shorten their overall length and thus contract the muscle. In humans, these fibres are long which enables a great number of bonds to form between the actin and myosin filaments - this results in a very strong system. In creatures capable of ballistic tongue movements, the fibres are shorter. Thus there are more `sliding possibilities` and less bonds between the two filament types. As a result, strength is reduced but speed is greatly increased. These propertries allow the squid`s prey catching tentacles to increase in length by around 80% in just 20-30 milliseconds - bad news if you`re a shrimp!
Jenny Gimpel | alphagalileo
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy