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Fan organs of crayfish enhance chemical information flow
Breithaupt, Th. (2001). Fan organs of crayfish enhance chemical information flow. Biol. Bull. 200: 150-154
In: Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory: Lancaster, Pa. etc.. ISSN 0006-3185, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Breithaupt, Th.

    Animals as well as autonomous robots need to acquire environmental signals in order to adjust their activity in time and space. Some information is accessible to the sensors only as a result of specific behaviors for stimulus acquisition. Due to the slow rate of molecular diffusion, dispersal of chemical stimuli depends on fluid flow. Aquatic crustaceans can generate directed water currents by specialized appendages. Here I describe the crayfish fan organs, which are feathered flagella of the mouthparts, and their activity in sending and receiving chemical signals in environments with stagnant flow conditions. During the power-stroke, the fan opens and displaces water; during the return stroke, it collapses and thereby minimizes drag. These organs can create a variety of flow fields including water jets, and in many different directions. Bilateral upward fanning draws water horizontally from all directions toward the anterior chemoreceptors. Unilateral upward fanning draws water from only one side towards the body. The versatility of the crayfish fan organ makes it a candidate for biomimetic reconstruction and use in autonomous robots that can search chemical sources.

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