Research Article

Why the seahorse tail is square

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, aaa6683
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6683

The curious tale of the square tail

Appendages in animals are typically round, but the seahorse tail has a square cross section. Porter et al. hypothesize that this shape provides better functionality and strength than a round cross section (see the Perspective by Ashley-Ross). Three-dimensional printed models show that square cross section shapes behave more advantageously when subjected to compressive forces. By allowing greater deformation without damage and accommodating twisting deformations, square appendages passively return to their original configurations. The added flexibility of the square cross section enhances the tail's ability to grasp objects.

Science, this issue 10.1126/science.aaa6683; see also p. 30

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