Generic article

Morphology and force transfer in tree frogs’ toe pads

Secure and gentle grip of delicate biological tissues

With their specialised toe pads, tree frogs can attach to smooth, rough and even wet surfaces. This makes them an interesting model for the study of biological attachment mechanisms (e.g. van der Waals interactions) and for the development of novel, biomimetic surgical tools. For a better understanding of the basics of tree frog attachment, we combine experimental (force measurements, kinematics) and numerical (FEA) approaches with analyses of toe pad morphology.

Electron microscope image of a stained section of a toe pad of H. cinera (Ernst, 1973).
Electron microscope image of a stained section of a toe pad of H. cinera (Ernst, 1973).

Thesis content

Toe pad morphology has to support the generation of sufficient adhesion and friction as well as the transfer of these forces to the skeleton. Analysis of the morphological bases of force transfer might allow conclusions on the mechanism involved in force generation.

You will visualise the three-dimensional morphology of load transferring structures in a toe pad. Further, this project includes quantitative measurements of these structures and discussion of the observed morphology with respect to behaviour of the animal and attachment mechanics.

This subject is available from 04/2017 – 12/2017. It is best suited for a BSc project.

The following skills are beneficial for applicants:

-          Good understanding of image analysis (e.g. ImageJ, MeVisLab)

-          Good knowledge in biomechanics

-          Basic understanding of adhesion and friction

-          Good knowledge in MS Office; experience with MATLAB is helpful

For questions or application (incl. CV and letter of motivation), please contact Julian Langowski.

Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Johan L. van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Julian K.A. Langowski
Sander Gussekloo
Contact: Julian K.A. Langowski (via contact form)
Begin date: 01/04/2017 (variable)
End date: 01/01/2018 (variable)
Credits: 12 ECTS (variable)
For: BSc Biology
Requirements: See thesis description
Used skills: Image analysis, Segmentation, Data management, Biomechanics, Biomimet-ics, Scientific writing and presentation