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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
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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.