Hydra, a tiny freshwater organism that resembles an upright jellyfish, can do amazing somersaults. Hydra is no bigger than the width of a human finger, but it can stretch and turn its tentacles perfectly.
The hydra is known for having resurrection abilities similar to those of a serpent-like creature in Greek mythology that regenerates two new heads for each one that is cut. Furthermore, they do not age, prompting some biologists to call them ‘immortal.’
What scientist found on studying Hydra
Suyash Naik, an undergraduate student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune, researched the organism in detail.
While studying it, He found that Hydra’s tissue is much tougher within the head area. He then calculated the stiffness of hydra tissue using a material property known as Young’s modulus.
A number determining how far a certain amount of force can stretch something. However, measuring this quantity for the soft tissues of a small, brittle organism is difficult. The researchers used an atomic force microscope (AFM) on hydra for the first time to solve this problem.
Using the AFM, Naik discovered that Young’s modulus at the hydra-head is three times greater than at its base, suggesting a sharp decrease in stiffness from head to toe. The researchers speculated on the role of this stark gradient. “We pictured a spring mechanism with two sections of varying stiffness linked like a slinky,” Naik explained.
This reveals the hydra’s somersaulting motion, where its strong ‘shoulder’ stores energy when it bends, before discharging the energy to land.
As per researchers, it is important to study these species because they demonstrate how animals accepted the need to travel about in search of food, water, and to avoid predators.
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