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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Razor Clams Create Quicksand to Burrow
23 May 2012 4:49 pm
Atlantic razor clams (Ensis directus) don't have the muscles to plow more than 1 or 2 cm into the sea floor. Yet somehow they're able to dig themselves 70 cm deep at up to a centimeter per second. The trick, new research reveals, is that the clams surround themselves with a pocket of quicksand. To make the discovery, researchers built a thin, rectangular tank and filled it with clear glass beads 1mm in diameter. They then placed the razor clams inside. When the animals contracted their shells, the surrounding "sediment" started to cave in. By pulling their shells in even closer, the clams drew surrounding water into the spaces between the beads. The resulting water-bead mixture reduced the resistance clams encountered while digging, researchers report online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. Engineers are busy building small burrowing robots that mimic the clam's motions for use on autonomous underwater vehicles. The goal is to use them as anchors that dig themselves in and out of the sea floor, eliminating the need to use motors that would drain battery life while keeping the instrument stationary in the water.
See more ScienceShots.