J.Biomech. 39(10), 1761-1768, 2006

STUDYING ARACHNID SLIT SENSILLA BY A FRACTURE MECHANICAL APPROACH: KACHANOV'S METHOD AND SLIT FACE DISPLACEMENTS

B. Hößl¹², H.J. Böhm¹, F.G. Rammerstorfer¹, Müllan R.², F.G. Barth²

¹Institute of Lightweight Design and Structural Biomechanics,
TU Wien, Vienna, Austria
²Life Sciences, Department for Neurobiology and Behavioral Sciences,
Biomechanics,
University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


Abstract - Slit sensilla are sensory organs which measure strains in the exoskeleton of arachnids. They occur as isolated slits, in loose groups and in close parallel arrangements known as lyriform organs or compound slit sensilla.

The deformations of the slits' faces induced by far-field strains acting on groups of slits are studied using Kachanov's analytical approximations for the opening displacements of cracks, a method developed within the framework of fracture mechanics. The accuracy of the approach is assessed by comparisons with results obtained by Finite Element analysis. The limits of its applicability to slit sensilla are found to be reached when the lateral spacing between interacting slits is less than half their length, i.e., the method is suitable for studying single slits and loose groups but bot lyriform organs.

The influence of a number of geometrical parameters of slit sensilla on the deformation patterns of the faces of parallel slits in generic arrangements is studied, viz. spacing between slits, longitudinal shifts between slits, and slit length. The results are presented as opening distances along the length of the cracks and in terms of normalized diagrams that relate the opening distances at mid-length of the slits to the geometrical parameters. In addition, Kachanov's method is used to find a set of slit lengths that give rise to prescribed opening distances.


(hjb,060710)