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Flexural and torsional stiffness in multi-jointed biological beams
Etnier, S.A. (2001). Flexural and torsional stiffness in multi-jointed biological beams. Biol. Bull. 200: 1-8
In: Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory: Lancaster. ISSN 0006-3185, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Etnier, S.A.

    Flexibility, the ability to deform in response to loads, is a common property of biological beams. This paper investigates the mechanical behavior of multi-jointed beams, which are characterized by a linear series of morphologically similar joints. Flexural stiffness and torsional stiffness were measured in two structurally distinct beams, crinoid arms (Echinodermata, Comatulida) and crustacean antennae (Arthropoda, Decapoda). Morphological data from these beams were used to determine the relative contributions of beam diameter and joint density (number of joints per millimeter of beam length) to the flexural and torsional stiffness of these two structures. As predicted by beam theory, beam diameter influenced stiffness in both crinoid arms and crustacean antennae. In crinoid arms, increases in joint density were associated with decreases in stiffness, but joint density had no significant influence on stiffness in crustacean antennae. In both crinoid arms and crustacean antennae, the magnitudes of flexural and torsional stiffness, as well as the ratio of these two variables, were similar to previously reported values for non-jointed biological beams. These results suggest that the structural design of a biological beam is not a limiting factor determining its mechanical properties.

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