Sam Van Wassenbergh's research while affiliated with University of Antwerp and other places

Publications (104)

Article
The skull of a woodpecker is hypothesized to serve as a shock absorber that minimizes the harmful deceleration of its brain upon impact into trees1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and has inspired the engineering of shock-absorbing materials12, 13, 14, 15 and tools, such as helmets.¹⁶ However, this hypothesis remains paradoxical since any absorptio...
Article
Many songbird species rely on seeds as a primary food source and the process of picking up, positioning, cracking, dehusking, and swallowing seeds is one of the most sophisticated tasks of the beak. Still, we lack understanding about how granivorous songbirds move their beak during the different phases of seed processing. In this study, we used mul...
Article
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Boxfish (Ostraciidae) have peculiar body shapes, with conspicuous keels formed by their bony carapaces. Previous studies have proposed various hydrodynamic roles for these keels, including reducing drag during swimming, contributing to passive stabilization of the swimming course, or providing resistance against roll rotations. Here, we tested thes...
Article
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Virtually all fishes rely on flows of water to transport food to the back of their pharynx. While external flows that draw food into the mouth are well described, how intra-oral water flows manage to deposit food at the esophagus entrance remains unknown. In theory, the posteriorly moving water must, at some point, curve laterally and/or ventrally...
Article
Much like nails that are hammered into wood, the beaks of woodpeckers regularly get stuck upon impact. A kinematic video analysis of pecking by black woodpeckers shows how they manage to quickly withdraw their beaks, revealing a two-phase pattern: first a few degrees of nose-down rotation about the nasofrontal hinge causes the tip of the upper beak...
Preprint
Full-text available
Virtually all fish rely on flows of water to transport food to the back of their pharynx. While external flows that draw food into the mouth are well described, how intra-oral water flows manage to deposit food at the esophagus entrance remains unknown. In theory, the posteriorly moving water must, at some point, curve laterally and/or ventrally to...
Article
An issue in computerized X-ray tomography is the limited size of available detectors relative to objects of interest. A solution was provided in the past two decades by positioning the detector in a lateral offset position, increasing the effective field of view (FOV) and thus the diameter of the reconstructed volume. However, this introduced artif...
Conference Paper
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Boxfishes (Ostraciidae; Tetraodontiformes) have a rigid carapace which restricts body undulation. Swimming movements can only be generated by the fins which protrude from the carapace. Nevertheless, these fishes are highly manoeuvrable and manage to swim with remarkably dynamic stability. However, the rigid carapace of boxfishes shows an inherently...
Article
Studies have demonstrated that hurricanes can drive selection in Neotropical anoles. In a recent study it was shown that post‐hurricane survivors showed increased toepad areas, and surprisingly, shorter femurs. One potential explanation for the reduction in femur length is that increased drag on individuals with longer femurs causes them to be blow...
Article
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Compared to single source systems, stereo X-ray CT systems allow acquiring projection data within a reduced amount of time, for an extended field-of-view, or for dual X-ray energies. To exploit the benefit of a dual X-ray system, its acquisition geometry needs to be calibrated. Unfortunately, in modular stereo X-ray CT setups , geometry misalignmen...
Article
It is well accepted that the complexity of functional systems may mitigate performance trade-offs. However, data supporting this theory are hard to find because they need to be based on a functional system with different complexity levels in closely related species. The Pomacentridae (damselfishes) provide an excellent opportunity to test this hypo...
Article
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Digitization of video recordings often requires the laborious procedure of manually clicking points of interest on individual video frames. Here, we present progressive tracking, a procedure that facilitates manual digitization of markerless videos. In contrast to existing software, it allows the user to follow points of interest with a cursor in t...
Article
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Burst-and-coast swimming is an intermittent mode of locomotion used by various fish species. The intermittent gait has been associated with certain advantages such as stabilizing the visual field, improved sensing ability, and reduced energy expenditure. We investigate burst-coast swimming in rummy nose tetra fish (Hemigrammus bleheri) using a comb...
Article
Geometric distortion is inevitable in facilities using x-ray image intensifiers. When the induced distortion pattern varies over time, each recorded frame should be corrected accordingly, which is the case in conventional C-arm imaging, for example. This demonstrates the need for reliable and easy-to-use, projection-angle-dependent correction metho...
Article
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The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a fascinating species, exhibiting a complex life cycle. The species is, however, listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List due to an amalgam of factors including habitat loss. This study investigated the burrowing behaviour and substrate preference of glass, elver and yellow stages of A. anguilla....
Article
To date there are few quantitative studies investigating the evolution of tooth shape and function in aglyphous snakes in relation to diet. A considerable evolutionary decrease in body size is observed in whip snakes of the genus Dolichophis and their sister-group Eirenis. This was coupled with a considerable shift in diet from a regime consisting...
Article
Accurate knowledge of the acquisition geometry of a CT scanning system is key for high quality tomographic imaging. Unfortunately, in modular X-ray CT setups, geometry misalignment occurs each time the setup is changed, which calls for an efficient calibration procedure to correct for geometric inaccuracies. Although many studies have been dealing...
Article
Full-text available
Despite that boxfishes have a rigid carapace that restricts body undulation, they are highly manoeuvrable and manage to swim with remarkably dynamic stability. Recent research has indicated that the rigid body shape of boxfishes shows an inherently unstable response in its rotations caused by course-disturbing flows. Hence, any net stabilizing effe...
Article
Purpose: X-ray image intensifiers (XRIIs) inevitably produce images suffering from geometric distortion. Presently, various local and global methods exist to correct for these distortions. However, the performance of global methods is limited for dominant local distortions, and local methods tend to suffer from patch discontinuity and are generall...
Preprint
Full-text available
To date there are few detailed and quantitative studies investigating the evolution of the tooth shape and function in Aglyphous snakes in relation to diet. To study dental adaptations to diet, a lineage that is of particular interest due to its large range of adult body sizes, is the one including dwarfed snakes of the genus Eirenis and their imme...
Article
The use of biplanar high-speed x-ray fluoroscopy to study fast, 3D movements that are inaccessible from external views has grown significantly in the past decade. Owing to the development of specialised software for calibration, distortion correction, and automated tracking of radio-opaque marker implants, this technique will soon become the standa...
Chapter
Several species of fish live at the interface between water and land, and have evolved ways to cope with the problems of an ancestrally aquatic feeding system that needs to function on land. Studies of the kinematics of terrestrial feeding by these amphibious fishes allow us to identify the mechanical challenges and solutions to successfully make t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Knowledge of the acquisition geometry is key for tomographic reconstruction. Before image reconstruction algorithms can be applied to compute a 3D image from a set of 2D projections, calibration must be carried out to correct geometrical inaccuracies. The main source of geometric misalignment can be attributed to possible mechanical instability and...
Article
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Is feeding ecology the main driver of beak diversification in modern birds? Taking a broad‐scale interspecific comparative approach, Navalón et al. (2019) found a relationship between feeding ecology (diet and feeding behavior) and beak morphology (shape and leverage), although much of the observed variation remained unexplained. This low explanato...
Article
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Fishing is a popular and lucrative sport around the world and, in some cases, may contribute to declining fish stocks. To mediate this problem and maintain fish biomass in aquatic ecosystems, catchand- release fishing, whereby a fish is caught and immediately released, has been implemented in many countries. It is unclear whether the injuries to th...
Article
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To capture prey by suction, fish generate a flow of water that enters the mouth and exits at the back of the head. It was previously hypothesized that prey-capture performance is improved by a streamlined shape of the posterior region of the pharynx, which enables an unobstructed outflow with minimal hydrodynamic resistance. However, this hypothesi...
Article
A well‐known link exists between an organism's ecology and morphology. In the European eel, a dimorphic head has been linked to differences in feeding ecology, with broad‐headed eels consuming harder prey items than narrow‐headed ones. Consequently, we hypothesized that broad‐heads should exhibit a cranial musculoskeletal system that increases bite...
Article
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Transitions to terrestrial environments confront ancestrally aquatic animals with several mechanical and physiological problems owing to the different physical properties of water and air. As aquatic feeders generally make use of flows of water relative to the head to capture, transport and swallow food, it follows that morphological and behavioral...
Article
The presence of two phenotypes in a single species is a widespread phenomenon, also observed in European eel (Anguilla anguilla). This dimorphism has been related to dietary differences in the subadult elver and yellow eel stages, with broad-heads generally feeding on harder and/or larger-bodied prey items than narrow-heads. Nevertheless, both broa...
Article
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Mole-rats are known to use their protruding, chisel-like incisors to dig underground networks of tunnels, but it remains unknown how these incisors are used to break and displace the soil. Theoretically, different excavation strategies can be used. Mole-rats could either use their head depressor muscles to power scooping motions of the upper inciso...
Article
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Many organisms faced with seasonally fluctuating abiotic and biotic conditions respond by altering their phenotype to account for the demands of environmental changes. Here we discovered that newts, which switch seasonally between an aquatic and terrestrial lifestyle, grow a complex adhesive system on their tongue pad consisting of slender lingual...
Article
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Due to morphological resemblance, polypterid fishes are used as extant analogues of Late Devonian lobe-finned sarcopterygians to identify the features that allowed the evolution of a terrestrial lifestyle in early tetrapods. Previous studies using polypterids showed how terrestrial locomotion capacity can develop, and how air ventilation for breath...
Article
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Countless aquatic animals rotate appendages through the water, yet fluid forces are typically modeled with translational motion. To elucidate the hydrodynamics of rotation, we analyzed the raptorial appendages of mantis shrimp (Stomatopoda) using a combination of flume experiments, mathematical modeling and phylogenetic comparative analyses. We fou...
Article
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Few vertebrates capture prey in both the aquatic and the terrestrial environment due to the conflicting biophysical demands of feeding in water versus air. The Atlantic mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus) is known to be proficient at feeding in the terrestrial environment and feeds predominately in this environment. Given the considerable forward...
Article
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A unique example of phenotypic flexibility of the oral apparatus is present in newts (Salamandridae) that seasonally change between an aquatic and a terrestrial habitat. Newts grow flaps of skin between their upper and lower jaws, the labial lobes, to partly close the corners of the mouth when they adopt an aquatic lifestyle during their breeding s...
Article
Many species from several different families of fishes perform mouthbrooding, where one of the sexes protects and ventilates the eggs inside the mouth cavity. This ventilation behaviour differs from gill ventilation outside the brooding period, as the normal, small-amplitude suction-pump respiration cycles are alternated with actions including near...
Article
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Some newt species change seasonally between an aquatic and a terrestrial life as adults, and are therefore repeatedly faced with different physical circumstances that affect a wide range of functions of the organism. For example, it has been observed that seasonally habitat-changing newts display notable changes in skin texture and tail fin anatomy...
Article
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A major challenge for aquatic vertebrates that invade land is feeding in the terrestrial realm. The capacity of the gape to become parallel with the ground has been shown to be a key factor to allow fishes to feed on prey lying on a terrestrial surface. To do so, two strategies have been identified that involve a nose-down tilting of the head: (1)...
Article
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Presumably as an adaptation for mouthbrooding, many cichlid fish species have evolved a prominent sexual dimorphism in the adult head. Since the head of fishes serves as a bow during locomotion, an evolutionary increase in head volume to brood more eggs can trade-off with the hydrodynamic efficiency of swimming. Here, the differences between males...
Article
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Suction feeding is pervasive among aquatic vertebrates, and our understanding of the functional morphology and biomechanics of suction feeding has recently been advanced by combining experimental and modeling approaches. Key advances include the visualization of the patterns of flow in front of the mouth of a feeding fish, the measurement of pressu...
Article
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Male stag beetles have evolved extremely large mandibles in a wide range of extraordinary shapes. These mandibles function as weaponry in pugnacious fights for females. The robust mandibles of Cyclommatus metallifer are as long as their own body and their enlarged head houses massive, hypertrophied musculature. Owing to this disproportional weaponr...
Article
The gill cover of fish and pre-metamorphic salamanders has a key role in suction feeding by acting as a one-way valve. It initially closes and avoids an inflow of water through the gill slits, after which it opens to allow outflow of the water that was sucked through the mouth into the expanded buccopharyngeal cavity. However, due to the inability...
Article
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To capture and swallow food on land, a sticky tongue supported by the hyoid and gill arch skeleton has evolved in land vertebrates from aquatic ancestors that used mouth-cavity-expanding actions of the hyoid to suck food into the mouth. However, the evolutionary pathway bridging this drastic shift in feeding mechanism and associated hyoid motions r...
Article
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The shape of the carapace protecting the body of boxfishes has been attributed an important hydrodynamic role in drag reduction and in providing automatic, flow-direction realignment and is therefore used in bioinspired design of cars. However, tight swimming-course stabilization is paradoxical given the frequent, high-performance manoeuvring that...
Article
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Grunts are fish that are well known to vocalize, but how they produce their grunting sounds has not been clearly identified. In addition to characterizing acoustic signals and hearing in the French grunt Haemulon flavolineatum, the present study investigates the sound-production mechanism of this species by means of high-speed X-ray videos and scan...
Article
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The Atlantic mudskipper, Periophthalmus barbarus, is an amphibious fish that successfully overcomes the numerous physical challenges of capturing prey in a terrestrial environment. However, it is unclear what changes in the morphology and function of the feeding apparatus contribute to the mudskipper's successful transition from aquatic to terrestr...
Article
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Seahorses, pipefish and their syngnathiform relatives are considered unique amongst fishes in using elastic recoil of post-cranial tendons to pivot the head extremely quickly towards small crustacean prey. It is known that pipefish activate the epaxial muscles for a considerable time before striking, at which rotations of the head and the hyoid are...
Article
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Transitions between aquatic and terrestrial habitats are significant steps in vertebrate evolution. Due to the different biophysical demands on the whole organism in water and air, such transitions require major changes of many physiological functions, including feeding. Accordingly, the capability to modulate the pre-programmed chain of prey-captu...
Article
Full-text available
Transitions between aquatic and terrestrial environments are significant steps in vertebrate evolution. These transitions require major changes in many biological functions, including food uptake and transport. The Alpine newt, Ichthyosaura alpestris, is known to show a 'multiphasic lifestyle' where the adult shifts from a terrestrial to an aquatic...
Article
In contrast to numerous studies on the function of the locomotor system used by fishes when moving between water and land, little knowledge is available about the biomechanical requirements to the capture and transport of food by fish in a terrestrial situation. This study focuses on the kinematics of terrestrial capture of prey by the eel-catfish...
Article
The forelimbs of lizards are often lifted from the ground when they start sprinting. Previous research pointed out that this is a consequence of the propulsive forces from the hindlimbs. However, despite forward acceleration being hypothesized as necessary to lift the head, trunk and forelimbs, some species of agamids, teiids and basilisks sustain...
Article
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During the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapods, a shift from uni- to bidirectional suction feeding systems followed a reduction in the gill apparatus. Such a shift can still be observed during metamorphosis of salamanders, although many adult salamanders retain their aquatic lifestyle and feed by high-performance suction. Unfortunately,...