Beware of bounce, Cylindropuntia fulgida . This bushy, branching cactus will – if provoked by stirring – anchors its split…
Beware of bounce, Cylindropuntia fulgida . This bushy, branching cactus will – if provoked by stirring – anchors its split spine in the meat of the perpetrator. The blocked spines grab so hard that a segment of cactus often breaks down with them and leaves the victim with a stupid problem.
This is one of six species of cactus subjected to careful testing by the University of Illinois Postdoctoral Researcher Stephanie Crofts and Animal Biology Professor Philip Anderson. The researchers, studying biomechanics for puncturing plants and animals, wanted to know how the spinal structure affects its performance.
They found that the same biomechanical features that allow the collar and other ornaments to easily penetrate animal meat also make the spine more difficult to loosen. The researchers report their results in the Federal League negotiations.
“We look at the basic mechanics of a puncture event and how the differences in the cactus are spun ̵
1; especially their microstructure – affect how they puncture and attach to what they puncture,” said Crofts.
In addition to checking, the researchers evaluated the spine of Echinocactus grusonii the golden fat cactus; Opuntia fragilis or crisp prickly pear; Pereskia grandiflora rose cacti; Echinopsis terscheckii the Argentinian saguaro; and Opuntia polyacantha the pear of the plain.
Cactus sticks can have a variety of functions, including the defense of the plant from predators, which gives shade and collects water from fog. Cholla spines have a reproductive purpose: By locking to any critter who is unlucky to brush past them, the backbone helps the plant to distribute pieces of itself into new places.
To compare the different spines, Crofts and Anderson tested them in skinless chicken breasts, pork shells (with skin) and synthetic elastomers with different densities. They saturated the amount of force required to puncture – and retract – any material with any type of spine.
“Before we started the experiment, we looked at the spine under a scanning electron microscope,” said Crofts. “The ornamental spines – as they looked at – looked incredibly like frying pans studied by other groups.”
Like crown sticks, ornamental sticks have a shining appearance, the result of overlapping layers of shots. And like those on the spikes, the cactus hills are just the right size for mammalian muscle fibers, researchers discovered.
Spines without barbs required more work to initiate fracture, researchers found. Barrier spiders easily penetrated their targets and required less work to do so. They were also harder to remove from animal tissue.
“To puncture effectively, check the spine easily penetrate the target, so that only a little brush is all that is required,” said Anderson. “At the same time, it must be very difficult to remove.”
In spider paws and corpus spikes, the barbs appear like small, sharpened leaves that concentrate stress and make the tissue easier to crack, says Anderson.
“Then, the hooks take on your muscle fibers, making it difficult to remove them,” he said.
The researchers discovered reliable differences in performance between the cactus species. For example, O. Polyacantha “required significantly more work to pull out of the chicken than any other species,” said the team. Cholla spines were significantly more difficult to pull out of pig tissue. In fact, a single colon spine could lift a pound of pork of pork on top of his skin.
The cringe-worthy find went on. Torn spine removed from chicken breast ended with a coating of animal tissue, found the team. Pork stick pins appeared clean, but missing some of their hooks. They probably stayed in the meat.