They're not your average swimmers, and scientists have come to a surprising discovery on just how they do it.
Lampreys and jellyfish — two creatures you wouldn’t normally associate together. But in fact, scientists have found that they have a strange little trick they share in order to swim.
Most fish and marine animals propel themselves through the water by pushing for the most part, but the lampreys and jellyfish actually pull themselves, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Marine animals will typical create what are known as “high-pressure zones” by pushing against water, but jellyfish and lampreys work differently, creating areas of low pressure that forces water past their bodies and propelling them forward.
A team of researchers from Stanford University and the Marine Biological Laboratory published their findings on the matter in Nature Communications. It’s an amazing finding that may result in some different thinking about how animals propel themselves in the water by showing there isn’t just a one-size-fits-all manner for swimming. It could also lead to important developments in swimming robots.
We humans mimic most marine animals when we swim by pushing against the water as we do on land, creating an area of high pressure between the feet and the ground or our arms and legs and the water. Scientists have long thought this is the basic way all creatures must move in the water.
But one of the researchers was studying the interesting way jellyfish move through the water and noticed that the wakes were somewhat off.
So he began to study both the jellyfish and the lamprey to study. The lamprey wouldn’t seem to have much in common with the jellyfish — this long, snake-like fish attaches to the belly of other animals like sharks — but in fact it, along with the jellyfish, is one of the most efficient swimmers in the sea.
So the researchers filled a tank with millions of tiny glass beads so they could use lasers to watch how the beads moved when animals swam through the water. And that’s when they noticed how different their swimming technique was.
It’s an exciting finding that could lead to tremendous advances in marine swimming, as well as the understanding of marine mammal evolution.