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Structure protects against compression loading: staghorn coral


Staghorn coral / Nick Hobgood / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

The structure of staghorn coral is just one example of a natural branched system that protects against compression loading using scaled struts joined in a common lattice.

"In nature we notice trees, branching corals, and other fairly stiff items. In these systems, all of the struts join in a common lattice, and no motion is permissible at joints--they're simple, statically determined systems. If our systems branch, they're usually equipped with lots of triangular elements, although some crude cases (frame houses) use an array of mechanisms braced against any possible deformations by a structural skin of plywood or something similar. In nature, more often than not, the branches of a system diverge without rejoining, although struts are sometimes joined into trusses--the arms of some sand dollar larvae and some bones in the wings of large birds have already been mentioned." (Vogel 2003:437)
About the inspiring organism
Med_798pxacropora_cervicornis_staghorn_coral_haiti Acropora cervicornis
Acropora cervicornis (Lamarck, 1816)
Common name: Staghorn coral

Habitat(s): Marine Neritic
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: URMO: UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_CR IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: New building designs that minimize material use without sacrificing stability, new designs for cell and communication towers, bicycle frames made with fewer materials.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Architecture, structural engineering, transportation

Vogel S. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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