New research shows that amphipod’s tentacles perform chopping motions at 100 kilometers per hour and can accelerate at speeds close to a bullet.
A new study by biologists at the University of Alberta and Duke University has revealed the ability of a group of crustaceans called amphipods to accelerate as fast as a bullet.
This study shows that a small and unusual species is responsible for making the fastest reproducible movements yet known to any animal in water.
“The high speeds of these repetitive movements reach nearly 30 meters per second or more than 100 kilometers per hour,” said Richard Palmer, professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences and co-author of the study.
“They have an acceleration higher than any animal in the water, reaching over 0.5 million meters per second squared, which is close to the acceleration of a bullet.”
A high speed video camera captures claw shots of an amphibod capturing 300,000 frames per second. (Video: Sheila Patek, Duke University)
Amphipods are a species of crustaceans related to marine beach and freshwater rocks. Male amphipods use their large claws to make rapid and frequent cutting movements. The shots make a pop and create fast jets of water that can be used to defend their territory.
“Each new discovery of extreme movements in a new group of organisms raises fascinating questions about how such extreme adaptations were achieved in terms of biomechanics and functional behavior, and how they evolved from more common and slower-moving relatives,” Palmer said.
Although faster movements are seen in other creatures, these movements only happen once and cannot be repeated. As Palmer pointed out, the mechanism that allows dressings to repeatedly create such high-speed movements could inspire human engineering efforts.
“This may suggest new engineering solutions to design and build small structures that can move very quickly over and over again.”
The research was led by Sarah Longo and Sheila Patek at Duke University, in collaboration with Palmer in the School of Science at A. Funding was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
The study, “Small Shots of Bipods Pushing the Limits of High-Speed and Repeatable Movement,” was published in Current biology.