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1 May 2002 A FACILITATED RELEASE MECHANISM FOR QUILLS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE (ERETHIZON DORSATUM)
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Abstract

Quill-withdrawal experiments confirm a hypothesis proposing that North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) give up a quill more easily if the quill's root is first thrust back sharply into the porcupine's skin. The hypothesis was tested in 8 porcupines. When quills are impacted in a way that mimics contact with a predator, the tension required to remove an impacted quill from the porcupine's skin was reduced from 90.3 g ± 16.8 SD by 38.1%. The phenomenon was observed only in quills that had been erected by porcupines. This tension-reducing mechanism allows a porcupine to separate more readily from an attacking predator and adds to the effectiveness of porcupine quills as smart weapons.

Uldis Roze "A FACILITATED RELEASE MECHANISM FOR QUILLS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE (ERETHIZON DORSATUM)," Journal of Mammalogy 83(2), 381-385, (1 May 2002). https://doi.org/10.1644/1545-1542(2002)083<0381:AFRMFQ>2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 5 June 2001; Published: 1 May 2002
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