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Why the seahorse tail is square

(2015) SCIENCE. 349(6243).
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Abstract
Whereas the predominant shapes of most animal tails are cylindrical, seahorse tails are square prisms. Seahorses use their tails as flexible grasping appendages, in spite of a rigid bony armor that fully encases their bodies. We explore the mechanics of two three-dimensional-printed models that mimic either the natural (square prism) or hypothetical (cylindrical) architecture of a seahorse tail to uncover whether or not the square geometry provides any functional advantages. Our results show that the square prism is more resilient when crushed and provides a mechanism for preserving articulatory organization upon extensive bending and twisting, as compared with its cylindrical counterpart. Thus, the square architecture is better than the circular one in the context of two integrated functions: grasping ability and crushing resistance.
Keywords
biomimetics, evolution, morphology, seahorse, tail, engineering, mechanical testing, SKELETAL TISSUES, ROBOTS, FISH, SKIN, HIPPOCAMPUS, LOCOMOTION, EVOLUTION, ANATOMY, LIZARDS, ARMOR

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Porter, Michael, Dominique Adriaens, Ross Hatton, Marc A Meyers, and Joanna McKittrick. 2015. “Why the Seahorse Tail Is Square.” Science 349 (6243).
APA
Porter, M., Adriaens, D., Hatton, R., Meyers, M. A., & McKittrick, J. (2015). Why the seahorse tail is square. SCIENCE, 349(6243).
Vancouver
1.
Porter M, Adriaens D, Hatton R, Meyers MA, McKittrick J. Why the seahorse tail is square. SCIENCE. 2015;349(6243).
MLA
Porter, Michael, Dominique Adriaens, Ross Hatton, et al. “Why the Seahorse Tail Is Square.” SCIENCE 349.6243 (2015): n. pag. Print.
@article{7074249,
  abstract     = {Whereas the predominant shapes of most animal tails are cylindrical, seahorse tails are square prisms. Seahorses use their tails as flexible grasping appendages, in spite of a rigid bony armor that fully encases their bodies. We explore the mechanics of two three-dimensional-printed models that mimic either the natural (square prism) or hypothetical (cylindrical) architecture of a seahorse tail to uncover whether or not the square geometry provides any functional advantages. Our results show that the square prism is more resilient when crushed and provides a mechanism for preserving articulatory organization upon extensive bending and twisting, as compared with its cylindrical counterpart. Thus, the square architecture is better than the circular one in the context of two integrated functions: grasping ability and crushing resistance.},
  articleno    = {aaa6683},
  author       = {Porter, Michael and Adriaens, Dominique and Hatton, Ross and Meyers, Marc A and McKittrick, Joanna},
  issn         = {0036-8075},
  journal      = {SCIENCE},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6243},
  pages        = {7},
  title        = {Why the seahorse tail is square},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa6683},
  volume       = {349},
  year         = {2015},
}

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