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3D Flow in the Venom Channel of a Spitting Cobra: Do the Ridges in the Fangs Act as Fluid Guide Vanes?
Brody, James P.
The spitting cobra Naja pallida can eject its venom towards an offender from a distance of up to two meters. The aim of this study was to understand the mechanisms responsible for the relatively large distance covered by the venom jet although the venom channel is only of micro-scale. Therefore, we analysed factors that influence secondary flow and pressure drop in the venom channel, which include the physical-chemical properties of venom liquid and the morphology of the venom channel. The cobra venom showed shear-reducing properties and the venom channel had paired ridges that span from the last third of the channel to its distal end, terminating laterally and in close proximity to the discharge orifice. To analyze the functional significance of these ridges we generated a numerical and an experimental model of the venom channel. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and Particle-Image Velocimetry (PIV) revealed that the paired interior ridges shape the flow structure upstream of the sharp 90° bend at the distal end. The occurrence of secondary flow structures resembling Dean-type vortical structures in the venom channel can be observed, which induce additional pressure loss. Comparing a venom channel featuring ridges with an identical channel featuring no ridges, one can observe a reduction of pressure loss of about 30%. Therefore it is concluded that the function of the ridges is similar to guide vanes used by engineers to reduce pressure loss in curved flow channels.
Cognitive Abilities in Malawi Cichlids (Pseudotropheus sp.): Matching-to-Sample and Image/Mirror-Image Discriminations
Warrant, Eric James
The ability to recognize and distinguish between visual stimuli is fundamental for everyday survival of many species. While diverse aspects of cognition, including complex visual discrimination tasks were previously successfully assessed in fish, it remains unknown if fish can learn a matching-to-sample concept using geometrical shapes and discriminate between images and their mirror-image counterparts. For this purpose a total of nine Malawi cichlids (Pseudotropheus sp.) were trained in two matching-to-sample (MTS) and three two-choice discrimination tasks using geometrical, two-dimensional visual stimuli. Two out of the three discrimination experiments focused on the ability to discriminate between images and their mirror-images, the last was a general discrimination test. All fish showed quick associative learning but were unable to perform successfully in a simultaneous MTS procedure within a period of 40 sessions. Three out of eight fish learned to distinguish between an image and its mirror-image when reflected vertically; however none of the fish mastered the task when the stimulus was reflected horizontally. These results suggest a better discrimination ability of vertical compared to horizontal mirror-images, an observation that is widespread in literature on mirror-image discrimination in animals. All fish performed well in the general visual discrimination task, thereby supporting previous results obtained for this species.
Determination of object position, vortex shedding frequency and flow velocity using artificial lateral line canals
Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
The lateral line system of fish consists of superficial neuromasts, and neuromasts embedded in lateral line canals. Lateral line neuromasts allow fish to sense both minute water motions and pressure gradients, thereby enabling them to detect predators and prey or to recognize and discriminate stationary objects while passing them. With the aid of the lateral line, fish can also sense vortices caused by an upstream object or by undulatory swimming movements of fish. We show here that artificial lateral line canals equipped with optical flow sensors can be used to detect the water motions generated by a stationary vibrating sphere, the vortices caused by an upstream cylinder or the water (air) movements caused by a passing object. The hydrodynamic information retrieved from optical flow sensors can be used to calculate bulk flow velocity and thus the size of the cylinder that shed the vortices. Even a bilateral sensor platform equipped with only one artificial lateral line canal on each side is sufficient to determine the position of an upstream cylinder.
artificial lateral line; biomimetics; flow sensor; mechanoreception; optical sensor
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