Anisotropic Friction of the Ventral Scales in the Snake Lampropeltis getula californiae

Baum, Martina, Kovalev, Alexander E., Michels, Jan and Gorb, Stanislav N. (2014) Anisotropic Friction of the Ventral Scales in the Snake Lampropeltis getula californiae Tribology Letters, 54 (2). pp. 139-150. DOI 10.1007/s11249-014-0319-y.

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Abstract

Since the ventral body side of snakes is in almost continuous contact with the substrate during undulating locomotion, their skin is presumably adapted to generate high friction for propulsion and low friction to slide along the substrate. In this study, the microstructure of ventral scales was analyzed using scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscope and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Dynamic friction was investigated by a microtribometer. The ventral scales demonstrated anisotropic frictional properties. To analyze the role of the stiffness of underlying layers on the frictional anisotropy, two different types of scale cushioning (hard and soft) were tested. To estimate frictional forces of the skin surface on rough substrates, additional measurements with a rough surface were performed. Frictional anisotropy for both types of scale cushioning and rough surfaces was revealed. However, for both types of surface roughness, the anisotropy was stronger expressed in the soft-cushioned sample. This effect could be caused by (1) the stronger interaction of the microstructure with the substrate in soft-cushioned samples due to larger real contact area with the substrate and (2) the composite character of the skin of this snake species with embedded, highly ordered fiber-like structures, which may cause anisotropy in material properties.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Tribology; Snake skin; Anisotropy; Friction; Material properties; Roughness
Research affiliation: Kiel University
Kiel University > Kiel Marine Science
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s11249-014-0319-y
ISSN: 1023-8883
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 12:34
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2018 12:43
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/25333

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