FEB 28, 2016 10:38 AM PST

This Tiny Sea Snail Swims Just Like How Small Insects Fly

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Researchers from John Hopkins University have recently spent their time studying a very strange type of sea snail that appears to ‘fly’ under water, rather than swim.
 
Using a very unique type of physics akin to bees or fruit flies, the Arctic sea butterfly, also known as Limacina helicina, is the latest topic of conversation in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
 
These 3mm-long creatures are completely gelatinous, but they have small shells that are made from calcium carbonate.
 

This underwater sea snail swims similarly to how small insects fly.


What makes them unique from other forms of zooplankton is the method by which they move through the water. Rather than paddling themselves, they create a figure-eight movement with their ‘wings’ that generate the forces necessary for them to travel through the water.
 
"In a remarkable example of convergent evolution, we show that the sea butterfly Limacina helicina ‘flies’ underwater in the same way that very small insects fly in the air," the authors write in the study. "Both sea butterflies and flying insects stroke their wings in a characteristic figure-of-eight pattern to produce lift, and both generate extra lift by peeling their wings apart at the beginning of the power stroke,"
 
The researchers used a total of four cameras to capture 3D models of how the sea butterfly’s wings moved. They discovered not only the figure-eight motion, but also a special movement used by many insects called the ‘clap and flick’ movement, which is when the wings meet each other at the top of the stroke, and then disconnect.

Data captured by the research team's four cameras.
"This sucks fluid into that V-shaped gap as the wings open up, and creates tiny vortices at the tips of each of the wings. Those vortices are useful in generating extra lift," researcher Dr. David Murphy said to the BBC.
 


The new knowledge about how these creatures swim in the ocean could help scientists better understand their survival and feeding tactics for future studies. Nevertheless, it's still interesting to see how a method of movement tried and true in the air can be used even underwater by another species.

Source: Journal of Experimental Biology via BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 24, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Vets Warn Against Using CBD for Pets
AUG 24, 2020
Vets Warn Against Using CBD for Pets
As cannabis products have grown in popularity, the stigma around them is falling, while knowledge is increasing. CBD, th ...
AUG 28, 2020
Plants & Animals
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
AUG 28, 2020
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
Extravagant and spiny lionfish were once highly sought after by home aquarium hobbyists. These venomous fish are native ...
SEP 15, 2020
Immunology
Common Spice Relieves Eye Inflammation in Dogs, Human Studies to Follow
SEP 15, 2020
Common Spice Relieves Eye Inflammation in Dogs, Human Studies to Follow
A therapeutic made from turmeric has been shown to help reduce the effects of a painful inflammatory eye condition in do ...
SEP 06, 2020
Technology
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
SEP 06, 2020
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
Can math tell us about the gender differences in dinosaurs? A new study published a novel statistical analysis that esti ...
NOV 07, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Is Monarch wing size influenced by the environment?
NOV 07, 2020
Is Monarch wing size influenced by the environment?
Monarchs are shifting their migration patterns to live year-round in locations where the plants they need are always ava ...
DEC 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
Could CBD be a food preservative?
DEC 31, 2020
Could CBD be a food preservative?
CBD (cannbidiol) oil from has many claims made for it — and now lengthening the shelf life of fresh fruit could fe ...
Loading Comments...