Studies conducted so far have suggested that eels and jellyfish are capable of moving using extremely low amount of energy. To be more precise, according to those studies, the two marine creatures can cover the distance between point A and point B using much less energy compared to any other flier, runner, or swimmer ever measured. However, the key to this amazing energetic efficiency showcased by eels and jellyfish has so far remained unknown.

Recently, a research team under the leadership of Dr. Brad Gemmell of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida has conducted a study and concluded that eels and jellyfish do something absolutely unexpected when swimming.

The said research team was consisted of scientists from five reputable institutions. According to them, comprehending how different animals move is important for comprehending the evolutionary history of those species, their ecological impact and their fitness. The researchers said that comprehending how marine animals move in water so efficiently is essential even for engineers who are required to study various bio-inspired designs and borrow ideas from Mother Nature for building more technologically advanced underwater vehicles.

Experiments conducted for better understanding moving procedures adopted by free-swimming lampreys and jellyfish, and eel-like creature that move using their undulating, wavy body motions, revealed that those creatures don’t move forward by pushing against water; they do so by sucking water towards them.

Dr. Gemmell said that to date it has been assumed that animals swim mainly by pushing against water, an action that allows them to produce high pressure and move forward. He continued by saying that the new study conducted by him and his colleagues has shown that at least in case of a few energetically efficient swimmers, low pressure plays a dominating role and allows them to move forward using suction technique.

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Dr. Gemmell added that based on the findings of this new study it can be said that our knowledge about certain evolutionary adaptations of swimming animals might need to undergo some changes. According to him, these findings might also have strong impact on our idea of advanced vehicle design.

The entire study has been published recently in the popular science journal Nature Communications.