Morphological peculiarities of a harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) whisker revealed by normal skeletonisation

Journal article


Goss, G., Starostin, E., Dougill, G. and Grant, R.A. (2022). Morphological peculiarities of a harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) whisker revealed by normal skeletonisation. Bioinspiration & biomimetics. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/ac5a6b
AuthorsGoss, G., Starostin, E., Dougill, G. and Grant, R.A.
Abstract

Of all mammalian vibrissae, those of certain species of pinnipeds are exceptional. Researchers believe that their curious undulating form evolved for hydrodynamic detection. Our understanding of how these whiskers work depends on a
geometrical model that captures the crucial pertinent features of the natural vibrissae including its tapering and curvature. It should also account for the form of the whisker
when it flexes under external loading. We introduce and study a normal skeleton of a two-dimensional projection of a harbour seal whisker. The normal skeleton is a complete shape descriptor that involves reduction to the centreline equipped with a thickness function of the orthogonal cross-section. The contours of the whisker shape are extracted from a 2D greyscale scan. Our analysis reveals correspondence between
the undulations of the width and oscillations of the centreline curvature as functions of arc length. We discuss two possible explanations for that remarkable feature: one
based on consideration of growth and the other of plastic deformation. For the latter we employ a mechanical model to demonstrate appearance of curvature oscillations caused by extensive deflection of the undulating whisker due to external loading.

Keywords Harbour seal, whisker, vibrissa, normal skeleton, elastic rod
Year2022
JournalBioinspiration & biomimetics
PublisherIOP Publishing
ISSN1748-3182
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/ac5a6b
Publication dates
Print03 Mar 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted26 Jan 2022
Deposited19 Feb 2022
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Additional information

This is the Accepted Manuscript version of an article accepted for publication in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at 10.1088/1748-3190/ac5a6b

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