Researchers at the University of Nottingham have revealed the internal structure of hedgehog spines using microscale imaging. The study was conducted to mark Hedgehog Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of the declining population of hedgehogs in the UK.
The researchers found that the interior structure of hedgehog spines looks similar to that of a citrus fruit, with hollow segments and support segments.
The exterior of the spines has a ribbed surface texture and scaly microstructure, which provides strength and flexibility. The hedgehog spines were donated by local hedgehog rescue charity Hedgepigs.
The internal structure of a hedgehog spine, revealed in microscale images, resembles that of a citrus fruit, according to scientists. This similarity may account for the strength and flexibility of the spines.
The University of Nottingham team conducted research to mark Hedgehog Awareness Week, and Dr. Hannah Constantin, a team member, shared her fond memories of observing hedgehogs in her parents’ garden.
Dr Hannah Constantin, who worked on the images, expressed her concern about the decline of hedgehog populations in the UK, saying that when she was a child, hedgehogs were frequent visitors to her parents’ garden, but now she sees them less and less.
Dr Hannah Constantin, who led the research team at the University of Nottingham, stated that their contribution to Hedgehog Awareness Week was studying the structure and elemental composition of hedgehog spines. She also noted that this information is crucial for conservationists to continue their work protecting these animals.
Microscopic images of hedgehog spines were taken to reveal their internal and external structure. The images showed that the cross section of the spine has support segments and hollow sections, similar to a cut citrus fruit.
According to Dr Hannah Constantin, the ribbed surface texture and scaly microstructure seen on the exterior of the hedgehog spine enable a good strength-to-weight ratio.
According to Dr. Hannah Constantin, the fins on the spine of a hedgehog allow for a good strength-to-weight ratio by resisting bending and crushing without adding a lot of weight. The radial arrangement of the fins also likely strengthens the spine in almost all directions.
Deborah Korn from Hedgepigs expressed her pride in contributing hedgehog spines to the University of Nottingham for their research using advanced imaging techniques.
Fay Vass, the CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said the purpose of Hedgehog Awareness Week, which runs until 6 May, is to raise awareness about hedgehogs and inspire people to take action to help them.
Source : bbc.com