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Supplementary material from "Experimental studies suggest differences in the distribution of thorax elasticity between insects with synchronous and asynchronous musculature"

Posted on 2023-03-16 - 12:15
Insects have developed diverse flight actuation mechanisms, including synchronous and asynchronous musculature. Indirect actuation, used by insects with both synchronous and asynchronous musculature, transforms thorax exoskeletal deformation into wing rotation. Though thorax deformation is often attributed exclusively to muscle tension, the inertial and aerodynamic forces generated by the flapping wings may also contribute. In this study, a tethered flight experiment was used to simultaneously measure thorax deformation and the inertial/aerodynamic forces acting on the thorax generated by the flapping wing. Compared to insects with synchronous musculature, insects with asynchronous muscle deformed their thorax 60% less relative to their thorax diameter and their wings generated 2.8 times greater forces relative to their body weight. In a second experiment, dorsalventral thorax stiffness was measured across species. Accounting for weight and size, the asynchronous thorax was on average 3.8 times stiffer than the synchronous thorax in the dorsalventral direction. Differences in thorax stiffness and forces acting at the wing hinge led us to hypothesize about differing roles of series and parallel elasticity in the thoraxes of insects with synchronous and asynchronous musculature. Specifically, wing hinge elasticity may contribute more to wing motion in insects with asynchronous musculature than in those with synchronous musculature.

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