Patek, S. N. and A. P. Summers. 2017. Invertebrate Biomechanics. Current Biology 27(10): R371-R375. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.04.012
Invertebrate biomechanics focuses on mechanical analyses of non-vertebrate animals, which at root is no different in aim and technique from vertebrate biomechanics, or for that matter the biomechanics of plants and fungi. But invertebrates are special — they are fabulously diverse in form, habitat, and ecology and manage this without the use of hard, internal skeletons. They are also numerous and, in many cases, tractable in an experimental and field setting. In this Primer, we will probe three axes of invertebrate diversity: worms (Phylum Annelida), spiders (Class Arachnida) and insects (Class Insecta); three habitats: subterranean, terrestrial and airborne; and three integrations with other fields: ecology, engineering and evolution. Our goal is to capture the field of invertebrate biomechanics, which has blossomed having a primary focus on discoveries at the interface of physics and biology to being inextricably linked with integrative challenges that span biology, physics, mathematics and engineering.