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Science:微小蜗牛水下“飞翔”

摘要 : 这种小蜗牛在海洋中看起来就像一个彩色小点,但是在显微镜下观察后,你就会明白其名字为什么是“海洋蝴蝶”了。

 

这种小蜗牛在海洋中看起来就像一个彩色小点,但是在显微镜下观察后,你就会明白其名字为什么是“海洋蝴蝶”了。大多数蜗牛通过用长着肌肉的脚“蹭”海洋底部来活动,但是这种蜗牛的脚已经进化成两个可以被称为“翅膀”的拍打附件,研究人员近日报告称。

通常,这种蜗牛非常难以发现,但是每年其数量都有几周繁盛期。而且这种蜗牛的体形大小也各不相同:在北太平洋它们仅仅会生长到4毫米长,但是在南极洲它们会达到14毫米。对于这样一种微小生物来说,它们在水体中上下游动的速度可以说非常快。

为了找到背后原因,研究人员把4个高速摄像机放置在一个1.5立方厘米的物体上,并将其放在有一些小蜗牛的咸水箱中。他们在其中加入了很多微型反射粒子,并利用一束激光让这些粒子变得可见。随后他们等待着蜗牛可以游到视野中。不负所望,3只蜗牛这样做了,从而给该团队提供了以近距离、慢动作观察它们如何活动以及搅动周围水体的机会。

大多数海洋微生物会把它们的附肢当作桨来滑动,但是“海洋蝴蝶”则会用附肢“飞翔”,就像一只小飞虫那样,通过用翅膀和身体画“8”字旋转而产生升力,该团队在近日发表于《实验生物学期刊》的研究中报告说。一些研究人员现在正在检测,体形稍大一些的蜗牛是否也在以同样的方式游泳,还有一名研究人员在尝试模仿这种软体动物的高超技术制作飞翔机器人。

原文链接:

Tiny snail takes flight underwater

原文摘要:

This tiny snail looks like just a colored dot in the ocean, but under a microscope the reason for its name, “sea butterfly,” becomes clear. Most snails move by pushing a muscular foot against the sea bottom. But the “foot” of this snail, Limacina helicina, has evolved into two flapping appendages that deserve to be called wings, researchers report this week. Usually, the snail is quite hard to find, but its populations boom during a few weeks each year. And its size varies: The snails grow to just 4 millimeters long in the north Pacific, but reach 14 millimeters off Antarctica. It moves up and down the water column quite fast for such a small creature. To find out how, researchers trained four high-speed video cameras on one 1.5-cubic-centimeter spot in a saltwater aquarium containing some of the smaller snails. They added lots of microscopic reflecting particles and used a laser to make the particles visible. Then they waited, hoping a snail would swim into view. Three snails did, providing the team with a close-up, slow-motion look at how they moved and stirred the surrounding water. Most sea-going microorganisms use their appendages as paddles to push against what feels to them like a thick stew. But the sea butterfly “flies” (see video), generating lift by rotating its wings and body in a figure 8, almost clapping the wings together at the top of the stroke—just like a small flying insect, the team reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Some of the researchers are now testing whether the larger Antarctic snails swim the same way, and one is trying to build a flying robot that mimics the mollusk’s efficient technique.

来源: Science 浏览次数:0

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