We are pleased to share our recently published article in the Journal of
Gough WT, Fish FE, Wainwright DK, Bart-Smith H. Morphology of the core fibrous
layer of the cetacean tail fluke. Journal of Morphology. 2018;00:1–9.
Abstract: The cetacean tail fluke blades are not supported by any vertebral
elements. Instead, the majority of the blades are composed of a densely packed
collagenous fiber matrix known as the core layer. Fluke blades from six species
of odontocete cetaceans were examined to compare the morphology and orientation
of fibers at different locations along the spanwise and chordwise fluke blade
axes. The general fiber morphology was consistent with a three-dimensional
structure comprised of two-dimensional sheets of fibers aligned tightly in a
laminated configuration along the spanwise axis. The laminated configuration of
the fluke blades helps to maintain spanwise rigidity while allowing partial
flexibility during swimming. When viewing the chordwise sectional face at the
leading edge and mid-chord regions, fibers displayed a crossing pattern. This
configuration relates to bending and structural support of the fluke blade. The
trailing edge core was found to have parallel fibers arranged more
dorso-ventrally. The fiber morphology of the fluke blades was dorso-ventrally
symmetrical and similar in all species except the pygmy sperm whale (Kogia
breviceps), which was found to have additional core layer fiber bundles running
along the span of the fluke blade. These additional fibers may increase
stiffness of the structure by resisting tension along their long spanwise axis.
The paper is now available online at
Morphology of the core fibrous layer of the cetacean tail
The cetacean tail fluke blades are not supported by any vertebral elements.
Instead, the majority of the blades are composed of a densely packed
collagenous fiber matrix known as the core layer. Fluke...
Hopkins Marine Station
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
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