Document Detail

Morphological diversity of medusan lineages constrained by animal-fluid interactions.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17515413     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Cnidarian medusae, commonly known as jellyfish, represent the earliest known animal taxa to achieve locomotion using muscle power. Propulsion by medusae requires the force of bell contraction to generate forward thrust. However, thrust production is limited in medusae by the primitive structure of their epitheliomuscular cells. This paper demonstrates that constraints in available locomotor muscular force result in a trade-off between high-thrust swimming via jet propulsion and high-efficiency swimming via a combined jet-paddling propulsion. This trade-off is reflected in the morphological diversity of medusae, which exhibit a range of fineness ratios (i.e. the ratio between bell height and diameter) and small body size in the high-thrust regime, and low fineness ratios and large body size in the high-efficiency regime. A quantitative model of the animal-fluid interactions that dictate this trade-off is developed and validated by comparison with morphological data collected from 660 extant medusan species ranging in size from 300 microm to over 2 m. These results demonstrate a biomechanical basis linking fluid dynamics and the evolution of medusan bell morphology. We believe these to be the organising principles for muscle-driven motility in Cnidaria.
John O Dabiri; Sean P Colin; John H Costello
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  210     ISSN:  0022-0949     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2007 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-05-22     Completed Date:  2007-07-24     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1868-73     Citation Subset:  IM    
Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories and Bioengineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Cnidaria / anatomy & histology*,  physiology*
Energy Metabolism
Models, Biological
Swimming / physiology*
Reg. No./Substance:

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