It’s a snail and it lives in the ocean. It is so beautiful it is called a sea butterfly.
And it can fly – by flapping its wings – or appendages that look like wings – under the water.
The tiny snail Limacina helicina only lives in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. As it has a heavy shell, it would sink to the bottom if it didn’t fly.
Recently, David Murphy at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and colleagues examined how the sea snails fly. They published their findings in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Reporting on the discovery, New Scientist included some evolutionary spin and the standard millions of years dogma:
“Even though gastropods and insects diverged from a common ancestor 550 million years ago, sea snails use the same clap-and-fling mechanism flies use, which involves bringing their wings together then quickly pushing them apart.”
“Brad Gemmell at the University of South Florida, who studies the swimming techniques of marine animals, thinks that the unique propulsive mechanism could be incorporated into new designs of micro flying vehicles.”
Unfortunately, he can’t resist putting a bit of Darwinian spin on what appears to be an obvious example of excellent design:
“Animals have had millions of years of selective pressure helping to test and design the best strategies and how to move through a fluid using comparatively little energy.”