Using a Shell as a Wing: Pairing of Dissimilar Appendages in Atlantiid Heteropod Swimming

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Marine snail, Zooplankton, Locomotion, Clap-and-fling, Delayed stall

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Atlantiid heteropods are zooplanktonic marine snails which have a calcium carbonate shell and single swimming fin. They actively swim to hunt prey and vertically migrate. Previous accounts of atlantiid heteropod swimming described these animals sculling with the swimming fin while the shell passively hung beneath the body. Here, we show, via high-speed stereophotogrammetric measurements of body, fin and shell kinematics, that the atlantiid heteropod Atlanta selvagensis actively flaps both the swimming fin and shell in a highly coordinated wing-like manner in order to swim in the intermediate Reynolds number regime (Re=10–100). The fin and shell kinematics indicate that atlantiid heteropods use unsteady hydrodynamic mechanisms such as clap-and-fling and delayed stall. Unique features of atlantiid heteropod swimming include the coordinated pairing of dissimilar appendages, use of the clap and fling mechanism twice during each stroke cycle, and the fin's extremely large stroke amplitude, which exceeds 180 deg.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Experimental Biology, v. 221, art. jeb192062