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Understanding the mechanics of tail grasping in seahorses using a parametrized computer model
Praet, T.; Adriaens, D.; Neutens, C.; Maia, A.; De Beule, E.; Verhegghe, B. (2014). Understanding the mechanics of tail grasping in seahorses using a parametrized computer model. Integrative and Comparative Biology 54: E169-E169
In: Integrative and Comparative Biology. Oxford University Press: McLean, VA. ISSN 1540-7063, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 257902 [ OMA ]
Document type: Summary

Authors  Top 
  • Praet, T.
  • Adriaens, D., more
  • Neutens, C.
  • Maia, A.
  • De Beule, E.
  • Verhegghe, B., more

Abstract
    Seahorses are intriguing fishes for several reasons, one being their prehensile tail. Syngnathid fishes, to which seahorses, pipefish, seadragons and pipehorses belong, are characterised by a body armour of bony plates. They form a serially articulated system that encloses the vertebral column and its musculature. In the ancestral condition, as in pipefish, the tail is straight with limited flexibility, and mainly used for steering (pectorals and dorsal used for swimming). During evolution, the tail became modified into a grasping apparatus multiple times independently within the syngnathid family. Less known than the seahorse prehensile capabilities, pipehorses also show different morphologies related to grasping performance. To better understand the structural basis of tail grasping mechanics, a parameterized model of the seahorse tail was developed. By combining multibody dynamics analysis with finite element analysis, we analysed the implication of partial contribution of epaxial and hypaxial muscles, versus ventral median muscle, as well as that of the bony plate geometry. Natural bending postures, as observed in living seahorses, can be obtained up to some degree. The analyses showed particular relations between morphology and bending kinematics. Using this seahorse model, functional implications of evolutionary changes in in syngnathid tails can be further analysed, as well as to develop biomimetic designs of serially articulated systems that meet particular application demands.

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