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Science:古海怪像企鹅一样游泳

摘要 : 自从1824年发现蛇颈龙以来,科学家们就为它奇怪的身体构造抓破了脑袋。这种水生爬行动物生活在2亿至6600万年前,可长到15米长,而它们带着脚蹼的四肢也让它们在动物中独树一帜。

 

自从1824年发现蛇颈龙以来,科学家们就为它奇怪的身体构造抓破了脑袋。这种水生爬行动物生活在2亿至6600万年前,可长到15米长,而它们带着脚蹼的四肢也让它们在动物中独树一帜。因此,研究人员一直以来只能够猜测它们在古老水域中游弋的方式。它们的前肢和后肢是同时还是分别划动?它采用的是划行还是扑打的动作?为了帮助解答这一谜题,计算机科学家用保存完好的蛇颈龙骨架构建了一个三维模型,包含了关节运动、密度和肌肉的现实范围。他们接着把这些虚拟的爬行动物放到虚拟的水中,让计算机根据不同的关节运动运行了数千种不同的模拟,以寻找那个最佳的游泳策略。今天出版于《PLOS计算生物学》杂志的这些结论表明,几乎所有的蛇颈龙在水中的推力都是由前肢体像企鹅一样拍打水面所形成。正如上面的视频所示,在模拟中,这种爬行动物的后肢被固定不动,却仍然游得相当好,但是如果没有前肢,则它们非常难产生有效的动作。正因为这种区别,蛇颈龙的前肢和后肢是否同步移动变得并不重要:它们的后肢有可能是用来调整方向和稳定身体,而不是产生推力。

原文链接:

Ancient sea monsters swam like penguins

原文摘要:

Since its discovery in the 1824, scientists have scratched their heads at the odd body plan of the plesiosaur. The aquatic reptiles, which grew up to 15 meters long and lived from about 200 million years ago up to about 66 million years ago, are unique among animals for their four-flippered bodies. Thus, researchers have only been able to speculate at how they navigated ancient waters. Did the fore- and hindlimbs paddle in unison or separately? Did the animal employ a rowing motion or a flapping motion? To help resolve the mystery, computer scientists used preserved plesiosaur skeletons to construct a 3D model with realistic ranges of joint motion, densities, and musculature. They then placed the virtual reptiles in virtual water, and the computer ran several thousand different simulations with different joint motions, searching for strategies that produced good swimming. The results, published today in PLOS Computational Biology, reveal that almost all of the plesiosaur’s thrust was generated by a penguinlike flapping of the front limbs. As seen in the video above, in simulations wher the back limbs were immobilized, the reptile still swam fairly well, but without the front limbs, it became very difficult to generate productive motion. Because of this disparity, the question of whether the animals’ fore- and hindlimbs moved in phase or out of phase doesn’t matter: The rear limbs were likely used to steer and stabilize the plesiosaur rather than generate thrust.

来源: Science 浏览次数:0

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