Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Going Ballistic: Soft Structures Could Spell The End For Slow Shrimps

10.04.2002


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!


These `soft body mechanics` are in direct contrast to our own robotic designs. Man-made machines are created using rigid limbs and joints whilst many natural systems rely on pressurised fluid alone for support. Dr van Leeuwen suggests that this property allows the tongue to be "controllable, lightweight and flexible."

"Nature has found solutions to produce intricate `robotic` arms which are made only of soft tissue. The perpendicular arrangement of fibres in the tongue is a clever system. When the tongue muscles contract, you get an enormous extension, allowing predators to capture fast moving prey. "

Jenny Gimpel | alphagalileo

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells
27.09.2016 | University of Cologne - Universität zu Köln

nachricht A blue stoplight to prevent runaway photosynthesis
27.09.2016 | National Institute for Basic Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development

28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering

Innovate coating extends the life of materials for industrial use

28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Blockchain Set to Transform the Financial Services Market

28.09.2016 | Business and Finance

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>