5 May 2015
The northern clingfish, which inhabits the shallow, coastal waters of Puget Sound, could be the inspiration for surgical devices of the future.
With its suction cups, it can hold up to 150 times its own body weight and can actually grip rough surfaces better than smooth ones.
Researchers at the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories are studying these fish to better understand how such massive suction power is possible in wet, slimy environments.
It is hoped that the biomechanics of clingfish could help design devices and instruments to be used in surgery.
Clingfish have a disc on their bellies that is key to how they can hold on with such tenacity. This disc is covered in layers of micro-sized, hairlike structures, which allows the fish to attach to surfaces with different amounts of roughness.
Petra Ditsche, a postdoctoral researcher with Adam Summers' team at Friday Harbor Labs, said the northern clingfish's attachment abilities are "very desirable for technical applications" as it can provide an "excellent model for strongly and reversibly attaching to rough, fouled surfaces in wet environments".
Posted by Phillip Briggs
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