Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secrets of sharks' success: Flexible scales enable fast turning

Date:
November 24, 2010
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
New research suggests that one of the evolutionary secrets of the shark hides in one of its tiniest traits -- flexible scales on their bodies that allow them to change directions while moving at full speed.

Shortfin mako.
Credit: P. Motta/Univ. South Florida

New research from the University of South Florida suggests that one of the evolutionary secrets of the shark's success hides in one of its tiniest traits -- flexible scales on the bodies of these peerless predators that make them better hunters by allowing them to change directions while moving at full speed.

The key to this ability lies in the fact that the scales control water flow separation across the creatures' bodies, says Amy Lang of the University of Alabama who will present work she performed with her colleagues at the University of South Florida Nov. 23 at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) annual meeting in Long Beach, CA.

Flow separation is an issue in systems like aircraft design, explains Lang, because it tends to cause vortices that impede speed and stability.

"In nature, if you look at surfaces of animals, you'll see that they are not smooth," she says. "They have patterns. Why? One common application of patterning a surface is to control flow -- think of the dimples of a golf ball that help the ball fly farther. We believe scales on fast-swimming sharks serve a similar purpose of flow separation control."

Based on experimental measurements and models of shark scales, Dr. Lang's team discovered that the bases of shortfin mako scales (literally small teeth covering their body) where they attach to the skin are not as wide as the tops of the scales. This tapered shape enables the scales to be easily manipulated to angles of 60 degrees or more, endowing them with movement called "denticle bristling."

Also, these flexible scales are only found on parts of the body where flow separation is most likely to occur, such as behind the gills on the side of the body. Denticle bristling is the probable mechanism leading to flow separation control for the shortfin mako shark.

"As we investigate further, we imagine applications of controlling flow separation in design of aircraft, helicopters, wind turbines -- anywhere flow separation is an issue," Lang adds.

This work is funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Secrets of sharks' success: Flexible scales enable fast turning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123191308.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2010, November 24). Secrets of sharks' success: Flexible scales enable fast turning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123191308.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Secrets of sharks' success: Flexible scales enable fast turning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123191308.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins