Assisted locomotion when moving the Gut
Internal movements of the guts of caterpillars when they are moved to help move. So reveals a study, to be useful for biology but also for engineering, because the finding may inspire designs of robots made from soft and flexible, able to crawl around corners with the same ease that characterizes the caterpillars.
The work has been conducted by a team of biologists and engineers, including Jake Socha, Virginia Institute of Technology (Virginia Tech), Michael Simon and Barry Trimmer, both from the Department of Biology, Tufts University.
The researchers used a powerful imaging technique X-ray to watch the movements of internal soft tissues. And they discovered that these movements were very out of sync with the external movements of the body. Then this amazing situation verified using a special method of microscopy, with which they could see the movements of internal soft tissues of caterpillars smaller, translucent, when they moved slowly along a glass slide under a microscope. The magnified by the microscope images were recorded by investigators in a camcorder, which then passed to a computer.
This combination of pictures showed that the guts of caterpillars crept forward before the surrounding tissues. This is totally different from any method of locomotion on limbs than previously reported.
In this way of travel, the center of mass of the caterpillar moves as “legs” of the middle zone are still on the surface. The internal movements of the gut do not correspond in the local area visible body translations. This kind of mechanical displacement never before seen, and probably unique to soft animals that crawl.
It was discovered in this research will not only serve to better understand the locomotion of these animals. It will also be useful for the design of soft robots with special benefits for search and rescue operations in rubble, or for medical applications in which a biocompatible and soft robot would be a better choice than traditional methods which entail major damage to tissues.