Control of Locomotion in Annelids

William Kristan

in The Oxford Handbook of Invertebrate Neurobiology

Published in print April 2019 | ISBN: 9780190456757
Published online October 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190456764 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Control of Locomotion in Annelids

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This article reviews the status of research on locomotion in segmented worms. It focuses on three major groups (leeches, earthworms, and nereid polychaetes) that have attracted the most research attention. All three groups show two types of locomotion: crawling (moving over a solid substrate) and swimming (moving through a liquid). The adults of all three groups form a hydroskeleton by controlling the pressure within the segments, and they locomote by controlling the shapes of the individual segments in coordinated spatial and temporal patterns. Many annelid larvae use cilia to move through water. Four aspects of the locomotory patterns are considered: the kinematics (the movement patterns), biomechanics (how muscle contractions produce movement), the neuronal basis of the movement patterns, and efforts to produce robots that move like annelid worms.

Keywords: crawling; swimming; ciliary gliding; leech; earthworm; polychaetes; kinematics; biomechanics; neuronal circuits; robotics

Article.  14048 words. 

Subjects: Invertebrate Neurobiology

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