Suction adhesion in the gliding joint of a cephalopod

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© 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. We have discovered features of the nuchal joint in the squid, Doryteuthispealeii, that are unique compared with moveable joints in other animals. The joint's function is unclear but it allows the head to glide toward and away from the mantle. The head glides along the joint with ease yet disarticulating the joint perpendicular to the axis of movement requires considerable force. After disarticulation, the joint components can be repositioned and full function restored immediately. Thus, an unknown attachment mechanism prevents the joint from being disarticulated yet permits gliding. We show that the joint was formed by the articulation of the nuchal cartilage and a heretofore-undescribed organ that we named the nuchal 'joint pad'. The joint pad is composed predominantly of muscle, connective tissue and cartilage organized into two distinct regions: a ventral cartilaginous layer and a dorsal muscular layer. Disarticulating the nuchal joint at a displacement rate of 5 mm s-1 required 1.5 times greater stress (i.e. force per unit area) than at 1 mm s-1 The force required to disarticulate the joint increased with nuchal cartilage area0.91 and with nuchal cartilage length1.88 The stress required to shear the nuchal joint was nearly three orders of magnitude lower than that required to disarticulate the joint. Stimulation of the joint pad dorso-ventral musculature resulted in significantly greater shear force required to move the joint (P=0.004). Perforating the nuchal cartilage decreased the stress required to disarticulate the joint to nearly zero. The results support the hypothesis that suction is the attachment mechanism.

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The Journal of experimental biology

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