How Hydrostats invented rigid body motion (#190)
The worm C. elegans and the human tongue exhibit movement behaviors that are quite different from each other, as we would expect from the wide phyletic separation between nematodes and vertebrates. C. elegans undulates sinusoidally to search for food, while the human tongue swallows, masticates, and serves as the main lingual organ that accomplishes the differentiation of the many hundreds of consonants and vowels of the world’s languages. Yet underlying the enormous difference in purpose and behavior, these two movement systems are known to be hydrostats, movement systems that rely on volume conservation to accomplish movement in the world. In this paper I discuss the similarity of motor control principles involved in C. elegans locomotion and human speech production that is due to their hydrostatic nature. The analysis of 80 movies of wild-type C. elegans and dynamic MRI data from speakers of Tamil, English, and French will be presented to support the idea that even though there are no rigid bodies in the worm or tongue, hydrostat motor control principles accomplish an overall motion of the deformable media of the hydrostats to accomplish translation and rotation, the signatures kinematics of rigid bodies. Analysis of the data together with a theoretical simulation of the data using finite element models will show how simulation of rigid bodies achieves an enormous reduction in degrees of freedom implicit in the deformable bodies and allows, therefore, for controllability of these media through the specification of very few degrees of freedom, like displacement and angle, the generalized degrees of freedom for rigid bodies. The implications of these results for general models of motor control of behavior for invertebrates and vertebrates will be discussed, emphasizing how the results here add to the existing literature on commonalities between invertebrate and vertebrate motor behavior.