Turning kinematics of the scyphomedusa Aurelia aurita
Bioinspiration and Biomimetics
Scyphomedusae are widespread in the oceans and their swimming has provided valuable insights into the hydrodynamics of animal propulsion. Most of this research has focused on symmetrical, linear swimming. However, in nature, medusae typically swim circuitous, nonlinear paths involving frequent turns. Here we describe swimming turns by the scyphomedusa Aurelia aurita during which asymmetric bell margin motions produce rotation around a linearly translating body center. These jellyfish ‘skid’ through turns and the degree of asynchrony between opposite bell margins is an approximate predictor of turn magnitude during a pulsation cycle. The underlying neuromechanical organization of bell contraction contributes substantially to asynchronous bell motions and inserts a stochastic rotational component into the directionality of scyphomedusan swimming. These mechanics are important for natural populations because asynchronous bell contraction patterns are common in situ and result in frequent turns by naturally swimming medusae.
Costello, J., Colin, S., Gemmell, B., Dabiri, J., & Kanso, E. (2024). Turning kinematics of the scyphomedusa Aurelia aurita. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 19 (2) https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/ad1db8