Cambridge blog

During 2021 I am working on a project entitle “Using engineering principles to model biological systems” at Clare Hall College, Cambridge.

I have just published a journal paper in the journal of Bio-inspiration and Biomimetics published by the Institute of Physics. It was published on 10 June 2021. The title is:

A review of linkage mechanisms and animal joints and related bioinspired designs

The link to the paper is:

A review of linkage mechanisms in animal joints and related bioinspired designs – IOPscience

This case study involved analyzing linkage mechanisms in animal joints and modelling them in the same way that engineering linkage mechanisms are modelled. Ten specific case studies were chosen including six different fish jaws, insect wing joints, bird wing joints, knee joint and the mantis shrimp club joint.

The paper shows that biological linkage mechanisms are highly optimized for motion and force. They use virtually all of the different functional features of linkage mechanisms including force amplification, speed (kinematic) amplification, remote anchoring, over-center trigger mechanisms and inverted hinges.

A key finding of the paper is that animal joints are extremely compact due to optimal placement of muscle actuators. There are some interesting differences between engineering and biology. For example, biological linkage mechanisms often have spherical joints and out-of-plane movement. And animal joints do not have shafts and tubes due to growth constraints. Another difference is the high level of multi-functioning of animal joints.

The amazing level of fine-tuning and high level of functionality in animal joints clearly points towards (very!) intelligent design.