A hydrodynamics assessment of the hammerhead shark cephalofoil

Published on
02. September 2020

A hydrodynamics assessment of the hammerhead shark cephalofoil

Matthew K. Gaylord, Eric L. Blades, Glenn R. Parsons


Hammerhead sharks are characterized by a conspicuous lateral expansion of the head forming a structure known as a cephalofoil. Two theories regarding the function of this structure suggest that it may increase maneuverability as well as produce dynamic lift similar to a cambered airplane wing. Here we report on a family-wide computational fluid dynamics analysis of all eight hammerhead shark species and three sharks with typical head shape. Models cast of the heads of fresh and museum specimens of hammerhead and typical sharks were used to produce pressure surface maps and lift and drag polar diagrams at various angles of attack. These analyses suggested that the cephalofoil (1) provides greater maneuverability that may be important in prey capture efficacy, (2) does not provide significant dynamic lift when held parallel to flow, (3) is characterized by greater drag than typical sharks across all attack angles, and (4) was found to result in a 10-x increase in energetic cost over typical shark head morphologies.

Sci Rep. 2020; 10: 14495. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-71472-2


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