Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Swimming Robot Tests Theories About Locomotion In Existing And Extinct Animals

Date:
May 30, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
An underwater robot is helping scientists understand why four-flippered animals such as penguins, sea turtles and seals use only two of their limbs for propulsion, whereas their long-extinct ancestors seemed to have used all four.

Madeleine, a biologically inspired underwater robot, is helping scientists and engineers better understand the most energy-efficient way to use flippers for locomotion.
Credit: John Long, Vassar College

An underwater robot is helping scientists understand why four-flippered animals such as penguins, sea turtles and seals use only two of their limbs for propulsion, whereas their long-extinct ancestors seemed to have used all four.

When researchers put a joystick-controlled robot named Madeleine through her paces, they found that her top cruising speed did not increase when she used four flippers instead of two--apparently because the front flippers created turbulence that interfered with the rear flippers' ability to generate forward propulsion. Maintaining the same speed with four flippers also took significantly more energy. But Madeleine was able to make quicker starts and stops with all fours.

Results from experiments such as these aid engineers in designing underwater autonomous vehicles and help scientists understand why certain traits survived over others during the process of evolution.

Scientists who study fossils of four-limbed aquatic dinosaurs, such as plesiosaurs, say the shape and musculature of their appendages suggests they used all of their flippers for locomotion. But over time, the benefits of two-flippered swimming won out. Extrapolating from experiments with Madeleine, scientists hypothesize that plesiosaurs benefited from using all fours to ambush prey.

Madeleine was developed by Vassar College's John Long and his colleagues at Nekton Research, LLC (Durham, N.C.) through support provided by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Collaborative Research at Undergraduate Institutions program and the Major Research Instrumentation program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Swimming Robot Tests Theories About Locomotion In Existing And Extinct Animals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060530200046.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, May 30). Swimming Robot Tests Theories About Locomotion In Existing And Extinct Animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060530200046.htm
National Science Foundation. "Swimming Robot Tests Theories About Locomotion In Existing And Extinct Animals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060530200046.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Flying (Oct. 20, 2014) Watch Gulfstream's public launch of the G500 and G600 at their headquarters in Savannah, Ga., along with a surprise unveiling of the G500, which taxied up under its own power. Video provided by Flying
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins