New study by University of South Florida shows that marine snails swim through the water like butterflies. The video shows the wings in action and how the shape of their shells help or hinder their progress.
By: Nicoletta Lanese [LiveScience]
Published September 7, 2020
Some marine snails soar through the water by flapping their squidgy appendages to and fro, similar to butterfly wings — now, scientists have discovered that the shape of the snails’ shells also helps them zip through the sea.
The new study, published Sep. 7 in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science (click for full study), shows that large snails with slim, elongated shells cut through the water more quickly than small snails with round, coiled shells.
The small snails swim slower, in part, due to their small wings, but their size and speed also make it so they can’t easily overcome resistance from the surrounding water, study author David Murphy, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of South Florida, told Live Science in an email. “The larger snails can easily overcome the effects of this viscosity,” or the water’s resistance to flow, and those with streamlined shells cut through the water even more easily, he said.
The streamlined snails slip through water similar to how an airplane wing carves through air.