Twisted tail investigated
Researchers are unravelling the puzzling paradox of the seahorse’s tail.
The seahorse - one of the ocean's most bizarre creatures - has a tail that is paradoxically rigid and flexible at the same time.
Belgian researchers say they may have found the key to the seemingly contradictory characteristic.
Experts at Ghent University in Belgium were looking at the way seahorses anchor themselves by wrapping their tails around vegetation, despite being covered in armour.
They created a 3D computer model to analyse seahorse tail movement, to find how specific tissues and bones allowed the bending and grasping action.
The model revealed that sheets of connective tissue were stretched across several vertebrae in seahorses’ tails.
This means that it can support multiple vertebrae while still allowing both flexibility and rigidity.
It is an arrangement that had never been seen before.
While it is exciting just to know, the team says the finding could have some commercial application in the future designs of armour or robotic devices.
A video of the tail in action is accessible below.