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
Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University
Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences