While the doesn’t always pay to take it the path of least resistance, periodically it’s best to simply go with the flow. New research ~ above seal and also sea lion whiskers assist explain exactly how they are adjusted to do just that.

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Whiskers, an ext technically well-known as vibrissae, provide their owners with important sensory information about the world roughly them. The follicle of every whisker is connected to numerous nerves, enabling an pet to “feel” its next site by picking up tiny vibrations in air or water. Sea lions (pictured left) and seals (right), like land mammals, are equipped through a highly sensitive range of whiskers that allows them come detect disturbances native afar or zero in ~ above the wake of their following meal. A brand-new study released in dearteassociazione.org ONE explores the attributes of seal and also sea lion whiskers that make them specifically well-suited to underwater signal detection.

Researchers in ~ the college of Florida investigated the hydrodynamic nature — the herbal properties that liquids in activity — that whiskers native three different pinniped species: port seals, north elephant seals, and California sea lions. Making use of CT scanning, researchers specifically measured the form of every species’ whiskers. When the overcome sections that whiskers in floor mammals are virtually perfectly circular, seal and also sea lion whiskers are somewhat flattened, in the form of one oval. In this study, the researchers ran water currents end the pinniped whiskers at different angles, watched exactly how the whiskers responded, and, measure the quantity of whisker vibration at various orientations loved one to the current.

The orientation that the whiskers, it turns out, affects how much castle vibrate. The authors found that when the skinny leaf of the whisker angled right into the flow of water, the whisker vibrated much less than when the flat side confronted the current.

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The authors suggest that the level shape of every whisker and also its resting orientation — specifically, skinny next angled into the circulation of water — might minimize the amount of self-induced whisker vibration produced by normal, forward swimming (video). The decreased base-level “whisker noise” may assist whiskered maritime mammals better detect vital vibrations in the water, caused by the environment and adjacent animals. And also that, really, is what the whiskers room there because that in the very first place.

Citation: Murphy CT, Eberhardt WC, Calhoun BH, Mann KA, et al. (2013) impact of angle on Flow-Induced Vibrations of Pinniped Vibrissae. Dearteassociazione.org ONE 8(7): e69872. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069872