Why Do Seahorses Have Square Tails?


Scientists use a 3D printer and a hammer to find out

by Mary Beth Griggs

We’ve got a lot to learn from a seahorse’s tail. Unlike other
animals, these fishes’ tails are square, not round–a fundamental
difference in shape that scientists believe could lead to new
developments in medicine, robotics, and even defense.

In a paper published today in Science, researchers found that the difference in shape actually made a huge difference in how resilient the seahorse’s tail is.

order to figure out why the seahorse tail is square while so many other
animal’s tails are round (rats, lizards, monkeys, cats, etc.),
scientists printed out 3D replicas of the square tails and similarly
sized round tails.

Then they smashed them with a hammer…

(read more: Popular Science)

photograph: shellac/Flickr; illustration: Michael Porter, Clemson Univ.