Patek, S. N., Dudek, D. M. and Rosario, M. V. 2011. From bouncy legs to poisoned arrows: elastic movements in invertebrates. The Journal of Experimental Biology 214, 1973-1980.
Journal of Experimental Biology
Elastic mechanisms in the invertebrates are fantastically diverse, yet much of this diversity can be captured by examining just a few fundamental physical principles. Our goals for this commentary are threefold. First, we aim to synthesize and simplify the fundamental principles underlying elastic mechanisms and show how different configurations of basic building blocks can be used for different functions. Second, we compare single rapid movements and rhythmic movements across six invertebrate examples – ranging from poisonous cnidarians to high-jumping froghoppers – and identify remarkable functional properties arising from their underlying elastic systems. Finally, we look to the future of this field and find two prime areas for exciting new discoveries – the evolutionary dynamics of elastic mechanisms and biomimicry of invertebrate elastic materials and mechanics.