Skeleton growth under uniformly distributed force conditions: producing spherical sea urchins Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractSea urchin skeletons, or tests, comprise rigid calcareous plates, interlocked and sutured together with collagen fibres. The tests are malleable due to mutability in the collagen fibres that loosen during active feeding, yielding interplate gaps. We designed an extraterrestrial simulation experiment wherein we subjected actively growing sea urchins to one factor associated with zero-gravity environments, by growing them under conditions in which reactionary gravitational forces were balanced, and observed how their tests responded. Preventing tests from adhering to surfaces during active growth produced more-spherical bodies, realized as increased height-to-diameter ratios. Sea urchin tests constitute ideal systems for obtaining data that could be useful in extraterrestrial biology research, particularly in how skeletons grow under altered-gravity conditions.

publication date

  • October 2017