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Nature prefers squares?

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Violet Geometric Volume Seamless Pattern Background 001 Stock Photo Recently, we noted a claim that nature prefers hexagons, but a reader has written in to say that nature prefers squares.

He adduces in evidence: Science published an interesting paper last year about the fact that the square shape of the seahorse tail creates a robust, rigid, yet flexible tail, more so than the typical circular/cylindrical shape you see in animal tails.


Most animals and plants approximate a cylinder in shape, and where junctions occur (as with branches of trees or limbs on animals), those corners are “faired,” meaning smoothly curved so that one surface grades into the next (1). When living organisms deviate from the norm, there’s usually a good biomechanical reason: a clue to some specific problem that needs to be solved. Among their suite of unusual characteristics, seahorses possess a true oddity: a prehensile tail with a square, rather than round or elliptical, cross-sectional shape. On page 10.1126/science.aaa6683 of this issue, Porter et al. (2) report that there are distinct mechanical advantages to being square. Using three-dimensional (3D) printing to construct physical models, the team demonstrates that the multiplated anatomy of the square seahorse tail shows greater resistance to mechanical deformation than a similar model that has a round cross section. Paper. (paywall)

Some argue that squre-ishness could lead to better robots (possibly clunkier ones?)

Overall, it sounds like nature is doing some thinking, or someone is.

See also: Someone at Nautilus thinks Nature prefers hexagons, and offered to explain why. The article is written as if nature in and of itself is an engineer. Funny how, as humans come less and less to be seen as persons, nature becomes more and more so. Is there a pattern there too?

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Haha! good one, Bob O'H. -Q Querius
Nature prefers self symmetry Me_Think
Actually, Nature prefers natural cubic B-Spline surfaces.
What basis do you have for that claim? /obscurejokes Bob O'H
BA77, I think this is more appropriate for people like you: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n__tAHR5ErM Indiana Effigy
Mung @ 4 Of course. R2D2 is Kenny Baker. Me_Think
R2D2 is a vicious lie! Mung
Personally I think Nature likes spirals http://fecdn.fractalenlighten.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/the-fibonacci-sequence-throughout-nature.jpg And they all morphed from Bathybius haeckelii somewhere in Asia earthsinterface
Actually, Nature prefers natural cubic B-Spline surfaces. Edges in nature are never perfectly sharp and surfaces are never perfectly flat, crystalline structures being a notable exception depending on scale. ;-) -Q Querius
Muskogee - a place where even squares can have a ball. Merle Haggard -- Okie From Muskogee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iYY2FQHFwE Merle Haggard on Austin City Limits "Sing Me Back Home" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT2Up25j5-Y bornagain77

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