Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Bass swimming muscles pull double-duty, study finds

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

Bass are well known for their swimming aptitude, but new research published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the same muscles that help the fish travel under water also help it capture its prey.

In their new study, lead author Ariel Camp, who earned a Ph.D. at Brown University in Rhode Island this spring, and her colleagues found that the muscles in the head of a bass contribute virtually none of the power needed to double its mouth volume and produce the overwhelming suction force required to ingest their meals.

Instead, they found that the arrangement of bones in the fish’s mouth are actually driven by the pull of the body’s swimming muscles, which run along their backs and bellies and give them the speed required to catch up to their prey. A complex network allows the same muscles responsible for propulsion to transfer power to the head, doubling the mouth volume.

“In fish, the body muscles are generally synonymous with swimming muscles,” Dr. Camp told redOrbit via email. “But our discovery shows that is just half the story. These body muscles are both swimming and feeding muscles. This changes our understanding of how these muscles have evolved, and recasts the role of body muscles in the over 30,000 species of fishes.”


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