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The bicyclops are half man half bicycle - a bit like a centaur.

EDIT *** Note that someone suggests the title be changed to "Half person half bicycle". However, in my story, the females have a different nomenclature and do not have bicycle wheels. I think "man" is perhaps clearer ***

They do not have legs because the lower part of their body is mostly bicycle.

How can I arrange for the pedals to be turned using mammalian musculature or alternatively, if there are no pedals, how can musculature rotate the wheels?

Note

The bicycleness is due to there being wheels (made of bone), the front wheel is steerable. Joints/axles are lined with cartilage that is renewable because the 'frame' is flesh and blood. So effectively the wheels, when fully developed, shed any living tissue and become exposed bone. The juvenile forms have the wheel-bones encased in flesh. They locomote by a different method. On maturing, the wheel-flesh falls away leaving dead bone. The supporting structure (or frame) remains living.

Note, the body shape isn't too important provided that the bone wheels can rotate and steer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ I know a lot of "half-man, half motorbike" people, you can look at them for an ispiration $\endgroup$
    – fraxinus
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ What, nobody remembers the G'kek? $\endgroup$
    – Corey
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ I quite appropriately read "man" to indicate "person" or "human", not "male human". Oh the joys of modern half educated political correctness! It's an absolute blight on the English language. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:27

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Piston

enter image description here

We will take for granted that the wheels are separate from the rest of the body. The problem is arranging musculature to turn the wheels without getting wound around some axle or other.

To that end what you need is a piston to turn either the pedals or to turn the wheels directly. The piston has one part that goes in and out. This is easy to achieve. The only rotating part of the contraption is the wheel itself. No tangled ligaments required.

Like a real bike, the back wheel is powered and does not steer. The front wheel is unpowered and does the steering. Just put it at the end of a "spine" so it can bend both directions symmetrically.

Wheels being dead bone will wear down. I suggest the biclops grows a smaller wheel fruit in front of the dead one. The wheel fruit does not touch the ground. Eventually the old wheel crumbles, the fruit detaches from the body and becomes the new wheel. The piston arm also grows longer to reach.

Added Later:

Like always, it seems nature perfected the design thousands of years ago:

enter image description here

The tricycle has exactly four moving parts. The three wheels are separate from the frame. The fork that holds the front wheel is separate to allow steering. The pedals are attached to the front wheel. The child's legs work as pistons. Notice the child's ligaments and tendons remain safely inside its body and not wrapped around any other part of the contraption.

The body of the trike is rigid. It is no stretch to imagine the frame being attached to the child.

I suggest (a) replace the back two wheels with one wheel, (b) move the pedals to the back wheel and (c) connect the fork to the frame with a moving joint. Now you have back-wheel drive and only two moving parts.

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    $\begingroup$ You still have to have a joint at the wheel... How is that going to work in a biological system? $\endgroup$
    – stix
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ @stix I don't follow you. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas If you try to rotate the wheel in the GIF around it's centre, so the left side of it moves towards you and the right side moves away, the piston will also rotate to move away. To keep the piston in place while steering you need the joints to have extra degrees of movement than what is shown. This is unnecessary if you put the piston on the back and the steering on the front. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ "Notice the child's ligaments and tendons remain safely inside its body" is a surprisingly funny statement. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Tom It's called dry humor, my friend. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 11:33
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Gut-like symbiosis

As Slarty observes, the situation you're trying to create will be hard to reach through evolution (though not impossible).

A solution to both problems would be for the anatomically modern bicyclops to be a semi-symbiotic relationship with a separate, wheel-shaped creature.

Imagine that long ago there used to be a wheel-shaped creature that evolved on its own, and a separate cyclops creature with some kind of pistoning limb (h/t Daron) for crude locomotion. I imagine this might have happened in the water. The wheel-shaped creature was a big fan of some of the waste produced by the cyclops. Over time, the cyclops learned they could exploit wheels, who would tolerate the exploitation because it came with a regular supply of that delicious cyclops waste. Every cyclops would seek out a wheel, like hermit crabs seek out abandoned shells. Eventually, the wheels' own reproductive cycle became integrated with that of the cyclops.

How far-fetched is this? Well, stuff kind of like it has occurred in real life. Consider the human gut, which is a "micro-biome" inhabited by a whole bunch of weird bacteria, which you need in order to digest the food you eat. Those bacteria aren't human: mother passes them to child during childbirth. They don't come from your DNA, but your body makes special accommodations for them, and depends on them as a vital part of its daily activity. Since they aren't part of the human genome, and are kind of a hand-me-down, there must have been a time in the distant past when these bacteria did not live in our bodies and our bodies didn't have a special chamber designed for them.

At a smaller scale, I think the story with mitochondria is kind of similar: mitochondria didn't used to be part of a cell, but at some point they essentially joined forces and now all animal cells have them.

Organic life is a beautiful and horrific intertwining of things. So, too, with the bicyclops:

Half man
Half bicycle
All cyclops

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    $\begingroup$ I like this answer because it solves the problem of healing an otherwise dead wheel (by making it its own living creature), and takes inspiration from real biology. $\endgroup$
    – Drake P
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ This was, IIRC, the solution that was used in the Golden Compass series of books. I read the books quite a long time ago, so details are hazy, but maybe the wheels were seeds or something? I forget. Anyway, seeds might be a good pick because they aren't very active (want to focus to be on the critter rather than the wheel) and they have an incentive to want to go places. $\endgroup$
    – Zwuwdz
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 2:57
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Circular muscle fiber.

This is a regular muscle fiber: a regular muscle filament that makes up a muscle fiber:

You see it consists out of myosin (blue bristling thing) and tropomyosin (the twisting thing). The Myosin’s bristles grab hold of the Tropomyosin and pull itself along to contract, using the opposing myosin connected to it to stay in place.

Now imagine we cut this in half and only take the left part of the fiber. The myosin would pull itself into the tropomyosin until it reaches the Z-disk barbed end. So you remove the Z-disk and barbed end, then lengthen the tropomyosin while making a large circle the size of the bicycle wheel. The myosin is now able to pull itself along through this in an endless circle.

Now you lengthen the myosin to fill up the entire tropomyosin length, and connect it to the bicycle wheel. Now your giant single muscle fiber can pull on the wheel and make it turn. Put many of these in increasingly large circles and you can pull the wheel along.

Bloodflow happens at the axle, where a cartilage and bloodvessle surface bridges the gap between the moving wheel and the place where its attached to the body. An extensive lymph system pumps the blood around and pushes it back out once its done. The nervous system would need a circular dendrite to continuously have contact with the nerves of the body, or it would have a few grey matter cells like in the spinal column deal with remembering and managing the wheel part with only once every X centimeters on the wheel a nervous connection to send data along quickly. Although the muscles themselves can be connected to the nervous system on the body side.

This would basically look like a fleshy sleeve around the wheel, with only the “tire” part sticking out.

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  • $\begingroup$ What a creative idea! The tropomyosin twists to drive the myosin around and around like a toy train set. My concern is whether the tropomyosin must complete one full twist per circuit. i.e if you spear one of the green tubes with a toothpick, will the toothpick rotate in one direction? Or can the tropomyosin twist to drive the train past, and then untwist after? That would make the toothpick alternately rotate one way and then back the other. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron since you would only keep one side and it would be one solid circle, piercing it would turn the affected fibers useless. A system like a newt losing its tail would need to be in place to release the damaged fibers and re-attach them once they healed. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ Imagine the toothpick is ghostly. It does not damage the tropomyosin or interfere with the moving parts. How does the toothpick move as the myosin goes around and around? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron ah yes my bad. It depends on which you fix to the body. If you fix the myosin to the body, the toothpick doesnt turn as its the tropomyosin that would make its circuits. If you fix the tropomyosin then the toothpick would only turn in one direction, which is the biggest flaw for this system. But not an insurmountable one: the inner circles of the wheel could be dedicated to reverse moving muscle fibers so you have a reverse capability. This type of wheel generates power based on the wheel surface area*2 of muscle fibers connected to the body. Not sure if that is enough force $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ This is very interesting. Would you be able to include a rough diagram of the whole creature? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 20:32
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Luckily for you, this already exists: the handcycle!

Man riding a racing handcycle

Developed usually for people who can't use their lower limbs for propulsion, handcycles have an arm-powered crank to drive power to the wheels, usually the front wheel (as these are mostly trikes). Some handcycles are steered like a regular bicycle by turning the wheel about the fork, and others by leaning into the turn (which may be more natural for beings born into this configuration, and reduces your joints by one).

As your byclops have a normal human torso, they can use their arms to operate the crank, just like human athletes with spinal injuries. In fact, I imagine the crank and gear system to be mechanical, an engineered improvement to their natural somewhat inefficient propulsion, which may be more wheelchair-like. Some byclops will prefer an aerodynamic, forward-leaning stance with low-lying cranks and performance-oriented gears. Others will prefer an upright, leisurely position with a longer chain and lower gearing.

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The EYES Have It


Introduction
The bicyclops is a symbiotic creature, descended from a disc shaped creature that made use of incredibly common magnetic minerals to repel predatory creatures; and another, multilimbed creature that evolved to make use of the same magnetic minerals in its mating behaviours. The common occurrence of the proto-disc creatures in the vicinity of the proto-bicyclops creature put the two in regular contact. Over the course of evolutionary history, the discoids became encompassed within the bicyclops, the latter coming to control the former's reproduction via pheromone mediation, allowing the discs to reproduce as a part of the composite creature.


Physiology
The main skeletal structures of the bicyclops are the bony rims of the symbiotic bio-wheel and the rigid limbs that hold the external bio-wheels in place.

The best way to understand the mechanism by which the bicyclops locotmotes is to examine the structure of the ocular lens of the terrestrial animal.

Essentially, the lens is a roughly circular, almost wheel like, structure suspended in the anterior portion of the eye. It comprises multiple layers, notably an outer layer of epithelial cells, a middle layer of nucleated fibre cells and a central nucleus of clear fibre cells that lack organelles. As the lens matures, epithelial cells migrate towards the centre, becoming fibre cells and adding new layers to the lens.

enter image description here

With that image in mind, the bicyclopian bio-wheel design is similar. Rather than a transparent lenticular nucleus, these creatures have layers of fibre cells that contain particles of magnetic mineral, arranged in such a way that they are capable of interacting with magnetic objects outside of themselves. Of note, while the human lens is perhaps 0.75cm, the bicyclopian bio-wheel can be up to a metre in diameter!


Mechanics
Within the host creature, the central gyre --- analogous to the eye's lens --- is rotated by ciliary action within the gyre's nutrient rich capsule. Of note, during the fetal stage of life, the gyre is immobile, and it is not until rather late in fetal development that the gyre finally separates from its surrounding epithelial layer, thus becoming freely mobile.

The capsular fluid acts as a buffer, as lubricant for the gyre, and as the medium in which nutrients and wastes are transported and also into which partially differentiated fibre cells migrate until they attach to the gyre for growth or repair.

Within the symbiotic portion of the bio-wheel, a similar capsule like arrangement is to be found, but rather than ciliary action causing the gyre to spin, in this case, fluid pumps act against ridges along the bony rim. Thus the central portion of the symbiote remains relatively stable whilst the rim and external tyre rotate around it, activated by the host's magnetic gyre.

The external appearance of the tyre is of an extremely tough bony plate surmounted by a somewhat spongy and fibrous hoof-like plate which is used to dig into the earth and provides locomotive traction.

Manouvres such as turning, leaping and so forth are accomplished primarily by spinal flexion and by weight shifting. Of note, distant ancestral creatures once had six independently mobile limbs. Modern bicyclopes retain independent mobility only in their forelimbs. The left and right medial and posterior limbs have become fused masses of bone, looking much like a wishbone's bifurcation.


Interface
The interfaces between host bicyclops and symbiotic bio-wheel is most interesting. The host and symbiote have together evolved a sort of 'ball and socket' joint, familiar to terran anatomists as the hip joint. Unlike the hip, there are no connexions between 'leg' and 'trunk'. Rather the ball protruberance of the symbiote is partially surrounded and secured by the sockets of the bilateral limbs. The junction is lubricated by a kind of thick gelatinous substance which adheres well to the smooth fibrous bearings. Numerous small orifices transfer chemical signals, nutrients, wastes and reproductive fluids between the wheels and host body.

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  • $\begingroup$ Does it leave a snail-like trail of joint fluid? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ @chasly-supportsMonica --- Would you like it to? :) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ I was worried that it might dehydrate rapidly, so probably best not to. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @chasly-supportsMonica --- I'd say they're not gushing water! I suspect the lubricant is thicker, more mucousy. Also, the bearings are smooth and tough --- basically fingernail material, so they rotate pretty easily without much lubricant. Also, good to see you back chasly! I've missed your awesome questions! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jan 28, 2023 at 4:38
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The bicyclops as described, may actually be very difficult to evolve naturally because by definition it is not a single entity. It consists of multiple parts by definition. The frame could become morphed into the bone of a body, but the wheels are separate entities by virtue of their need to rotate.

There are no macroscopic wheels or similar structures in the living world. I suspect that the problem is the multitude of required intermediates would all prove to be less "fit" than the original.

It might be possible to use some form of artificial selection to generate a wheeled being. The process might involve growing a biological wheel structure linked to the body by some sort of tube structure (preventing rotation but allowing growth and nutrient flow) followed later by the tube breaking away like an umbilical cord.

However supplying nutrients to the wheel across the axial would still be problematic. Especially if the wheel contained any flesh that needed blood supply, oxygen and nutrients.

The musculature required to pedal would be easy, but the link between a rotating pedal "bone" and the wheel would also be a problem as above.

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Super cool idea! I love it. I can think of three propulsion systems based on hydrodynamics:

The byclops could use a combination of these three mechanism depending on the circumstances. For example, the first method would be best to get started, but would only enable the byclops to go as fast as the expelled air. The other two methods could then be used to maintain speed or speed up.

Moreover, they could have some kind of mucus (or water) pouch to mix in the expelled air. Or maybe, the inside of the wheels shed some bone particles. This would raise the air's density and enable them to go faster without increasing the actual air flow.

Of course, I have no idea if this would work in reality. It could be that hydrodynamic propulsion is jut not efficient enough and completely impractical in this case. But, is sounds cool to me.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the umbrella and leaf-blower video isn't the best example, because it obscures what's really happening. Ditch the umbrella and it's more illustrative. youtu.be/_q_ifItT5i8?t=21 $\endgroup$
    – Edward
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 21:01
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Like a waveboard

The wheels wiggle relative to each other to generate motion. If the wheels are angled out of parallel, then moving them in and out sideways (from the point of view of the bicyclops) will generate forward or reverse motion. Each wheel follows a sinusoidal path in anti-phase.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caster_board for more detail on waveboards.

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As others have pointed out, a fully rotating wheel would be a separate component, so the best I can think is multiple wheels, not all of which are in contact with the ground at one time. They twist and rotate like a joint, but then lift and spin backwards to avoid any ligaments/cartilage getting tangled. Leg-wheels of sorts. Not very akin to a bicycle.

If you do want to persevere with the idea of an organic self-replenishing wheel that is able to fully rotate though, I'd have thought a design based off a unicycle would be more intuitive.

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I'm not sure if I am allowed to mention it here, but I typed descriptions of the creature in various AI apps. The following creations appeared. None of them exactly matched what I was hoping for. I wonder if anyone knows how to make these things work.

enter image description here

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