150. avoiding brain injury: a structural role of the frontal overhang on the skull bone of woodpeckers

Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Research Institute Affiliation: Graduate Program in Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Joanna M. McKittrick | Marc A. Meyers

Primary Student
Name: Jae-young Jung
Email: jaj042@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-366-3551
Grad Year: 2017

Abstract
Woodpeckers hammer at trees up to 20 times per second with a speed of 7 m/s while avoiding brain injury despite undergoing decelerations up to 1200 g. This is due to an impact-absorption system consisting of the head, beak, and (tongue) bone. This study aims to examine the relationship of structure-properties-function of the skull bone to determine its role in energy absorption and stress dissipation. We found a structural difference on woodpecker?s skull bone by having a protruded porous bone on the frontal area, the frontal overhang. From a finite element analysis, there was a lower Von Mises stress right after the frontal overhang than another model without the overhang. Moreover, the stress on the brain remained at a low level in both models with different pecking speeds. Thus, the frontal overhang structure seems to be designed to maximize energy dissipation and minimize the stress on the brain.

Industry Application Area(s)
Aerospace, Defense, Security | Life Sciences/Medical Devices & Instruments | Materials

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