Point of impact: The effect of size and speed on puncture mechanics

P. S.L. Anderson, J. Lacosse, M. Pankow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of high-speed puncture mechanics for prey capture has been documented across a wide range of organisms, including vertebrates, arthropods, molluscs and cnidarians. These examples span four phyla and seven orders of magnitude difference in size. The commonality of these puncture systems offers an opportunity to explore how organisms at different scales and with different materials, morphologies and kinematics perform the same basic function. However, there is currently no framework for combining kinematic performance with cutting mechanics in biological puncture systems. Our aim here is to establish this framework by examining the effects of size and velocity in a series of controlled ballistic puncture experiments. Arrows of identical shape but varying in mass and speed were shot into cubes of ballistic gelatine. Results fromhigh-speed videography showthat projectile velocity can alter how the target gel responds to cutting. Mixed models comparing kinematic variables and puncture patterns indicate that the kinetic energy of a projectile is a better predictor of penetration than either momentum or velocity. These results form a foundation for studying the effects of impact on biological puncture, opening the door for future work to explore the influence of morphology and material organization on high-speed cutting dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInterface Focus
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 6 2016


  • Cutting
  • Energy
  • Prey capture
  • Puncture
  • Velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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