Palo Alto, California – Stanford University along with the Marine Biological Department published on November 3rd via the Journal Natural Communications a research that brings new possibilities in the animal swimming matter. Scientists have discovered a whole different propulsion system in jellyfish and lampreys.

Until now it was believed that animals under water swim by pushing against the fluid to generate high pressures and move the animal forward. However, this new investigation proves different. The study led by John O. Dabiri, professor at Stanford University, indicates that the previous assumptions about the way both the jellyfish and the lampreys move through water were misinterpreted.

This newly found underwater movement puts jellyfish and lampreys in a group of super swimmers. Credit:

“Now we realize we’ve had it backward,” John Dabiri said. “Our experiments show that jellyfish and lampreys actually suck water toward themselves to move forward instead of pushing against the water behind them, as had been previously supposed,” he added.

This paper found that both water animals use a different technique. They bend their bodies in a way that creates low-pressure zones at the curves, causing water ahead of them to rush in and fill these zones. By creating these low-pressure areas, the animals essentially were sucking their bodies forward through the water.

Sci-Tech today reported, “The animals are pulling the water ahead of them backward, and so it’s the difference between using ropes to move around versus something stiff that you can push against,” the senior author explained.

This way of underwater movement puts jellyfish and lampreys in a group of super swimmers. Essentially because they can move from a point to another using less energy than any other animal ever tested whether they swim, run or fly. This highly efficient swimming technique puts them even above humans.

“Human swimmers generate high pressure instead of suction. That’s good enough to get you across the pool, but requires much more energy than the suction action of lampreys and jellyfish,” Dabiri says.

Beyond the positive consequences this new discovery brings to the animals movement understanding, there is another encouraging outcome. The study states that these findings could lead to an evolution in “the mechanistic basis for bio-inspired and biomimetic engineered vehicles.”

Source: Nature