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Asymmetric toes aid underwater swimming

Johansson, Christoffer LU and Lindhe-Norberg, Ulla (2000) In Nature 407(6804). p.582-583
Abstract
The unique morphology of the toes of the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), which are asymmetrically lobed with a narrower skin flap on the lateral side of the toe, enables these birds to swim very efficiently. Here we study video recordings of a diving grebe and stroboscopic pictures of its moving feet and conclude that the bird uses a hydrodynamically lift-based foot (power) stroke to propel itself underwater, with the separated toes functioning as multiple slots to increase the lift-to-drag ratio. The asymmetric lobes are an adaptation for self-stabilization of the toes during the power stroke, and the toes themselves act as separate hydrofoils, each producing lift and each being twistable individually under hydrodynamic load.
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature
volume
407
issue
6804
pages
582 - 583
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:0034609788
ISSN
0028-0836
DOI
10.1038/35036689
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
a4bfb013-034e-4140-9180-e609bfab771e (old id 951406)
date added to LUP
2008-01-25 12:49:15
date last changed
2017-10-01 03:41:29
@article{a4bfb013-034e-4140-9180-e609bfab771e,
  abstract     = {The unique morphology of the toes of the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), which are asymmetrically lobed with a narrower skin flap on the lateral side of the toe, enables these birds to swim very efficiently. Here we study video recordings of a diving grebe and stroboscopic pictures of its moving feet and conclude that the bird uses a hydrodynamically lift-based foot (power) stroke to propel itself underwater, with the separated toes functioning as multiple slots to increase the lift-to-drag ratio. The asymmetric lobes are an adaptation for self-stabilization of the toes during the power stroke, and the toes themselves act as separate hydrofoils, each producing lift and each being twistable individually under hydrodynamic load.},
  author       = {Johansson, Christoffer and Lindhe-Norberg, Ulla},
  issn         = {0028-0836},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6804},
  pages        = {582--583},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature},
  title        = {Asymmetric toes aid underwater swimming},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/35036689},
  volume       = {407},
  year         = {2000},
}