The role of suction thrust in the metachronal paddles of swimming invertebrates
An abundance of swimming animals have converged upon a common swimming strategy using multiple propulsors coordinated as metachronal waves. The shared kinematics suggest that even morphologically and systematically diverse animals use similar fluid dynamic relationships to generate swimming thrust. We quantified the kinematics and hydrodynamics of a diverse group of small swimming animals who use multiple propulsors, e.g. limbs or ctenes, which move with antiplectic metachronal waves to generate thrust. Here we show that even at these relatively small scales the bending movements of limbs and ctenes conform to the patterns observed for much larger swimming animals. We show that, like other swimming animals, the propulsors of these metachronal swimmers rely on generating negative pressure along their surfaces to generate forward thrust (i.e., suction thrust). Relying on negative pressure, as opposed to high pushing pressure, facilitates metachronal waves and enables these swimmers to exploit readily produced hydrodynamic structures. Understanding the role of negative pressure fields in metachronal swimmers may provide clues about the hydrodynamic traits shared by swimming and flying animals.
Colin, S., Costello, J., Sutherland, K., Gemmell, B., Dabiri, J., & Du Clos, K. (2020). The role of suction thrust in the metachronal paddles of swimming invertebrates. Scientific Reports, 10 (1) https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74745-y
National Science Foundation