A research conducted by the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), in collaboration with the University of California at San Diego and Stanford University, both in the U.S., suggests that the key to moving the snails lies in the complex muscular movementsanimal and not in the slime, as suspected so far. This finding may open the door to building robots that mimic this form of propulsion.
So far, they knew that snails and slugs move your body spreading a series of muscular waves that move from tail to head, but know the importance of saliva in this process. The conclusions drawn following the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology is that the properties of this fluid are not essential for propulsion.
For the research, scientists have characterized the muscle wave propagation taking place in the body of gastropods by snails and slugs to move on transparent surfaces while illuminating your belly in different ways to record images using digital cameras.Subsequently, these data analyzed by computer and reconstructed the 3D shape of the belly during propulsion.
The surprise of snail movement very well reflected in a phrase he wrote in the 80’s a professor of biology at Stanford University named Mark W. Denny: “How can an animal with one foot walking on glue?”. And is that the slime is highly adhesive, which allows some advantages, such as climbing walls or moving through the roof. Moreover, as anyone who has had a snail in your hand, do not exert force to move forward on specific items, like animals with legs, but rather a relatively low force distributed over a large area.”What also happens is that it is difficult to move on without putting glue plus remarkable strength to drag fluid,” said Javier Rodriguez, Professor, Department of Thermal Engineering and Fluid UC3M.The snails, over millions of years of evolution, have managed to travel on a highly adhesive substance avoiding these drawbacks.
This type of research can help design biomimetic robots that perform functions that can not play other conventional mills.Japanese researchers, for instance, create using this shell propulsion mechanism for advancing an endoscope inside the human body (trachea, intestines, etc), using the film of mucus that usually covers these ducts. ”This mechanism generates a smooth distribution of power rather than relying on specific points, which would reduce the irritation caused by the displacement of the endoscope, in this case,” added Rodriguez