robaid.com
Gut movements in caterpillars have impact on robotic design | RobAid
Weird movements in the abdomens of freely crawling caterpillars are making headlines in the fields of biology and engineering. The findings from a multidisciplinary team of researchers, including Jake Socha, Virginia Tech assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, Michael Simon of Tufts University's Department of Biology, and Barry Trimmer, professor of biology at Tufts, could inspire the development of a soft-bodied robot. The researchers used a type of powerful X-ray imaging in order to discover internal soft-tissue movements that were massively out of sync with the external body movements (the X-rays were used because large caterpillars are entirely opaque). Afterwards, they verified these findings by using transmission-light microscopy to see the internal soft-tissue movements of smaller, translucent caterpillars as they slowly inched their way along a glass microscope slide. This combined imaging showed that the caterpillar's gut slid forward in advance of the