Catapulting transports worms: nematode
Nematodes leap from one soil particle to another using built up surface tension to catapult themselves.
"Surface tension gets put to use by a nematode, which leaps from one soil particle (through air) to another. It holds itself in a U-bent spring with a drop of water; failure of the droplet to stay together straightens it suddenly enough to catapult the nematode upward and laterally (Dusenbery 1996)." (Vogel 2003:449-450)
"The mechanism enabling entomopathogenic [insect parasitic] nematodes (Steinernema
spp.) to jump is described. Jumping performance is measured and the
contribution of jumping to host finding is estimated. We used the
entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae as a model
species for the genus. Nematodes jump using a two-step process of
forming and contracting a loop. During loop formation, the nematode
bends the anterior half of its body until the head region makes contact
with the side of the body. The two body regions are held fast by the
surface tension of the water film covering the nematode. When the loop
is contracted, the body becomes contorted so that the cuticle kinks.
This extreme bending generates and stores sufficient energy that when
the surface-tension force is broken the nematode is propelled through
the air. The nematode (0.558 mm in length) can jump a distance of 4.8 ±
0.8 mm (mean ± SEM) and a height of 3.9 ± 0.1 mm. The contribution of
jumping to host finding varies among species and is related to the
foraging strategy used by each species." (Campbell and Kaya 1999:1947)
Note: the video shows the general action, but the organism is unknown.
- Steven Vogel. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
- Dusenbery, DB. 1996. Life at small scale: the behavior of microbes. New York: Scientific American Library. 214 p.
- Campbell, JF; Kaya, HK. 1999. Mechanism, kinematic performance, and fitness consequences of jumping behavior in entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernema spp.). Canadian Journal of Zoology. 77(12): 1947-1955.