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Journal of Experimental Biology partnership with Dryad


The hydrodynamics and undulating propulsion of tadpoles were studied using a newly developed two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling method. The mechanism of thrust generation associated with the flow patterns during swimming is discussed. Our CFD analysis shows that the kinematics of tadpoles is specifically matched to their special shape and produces a jet-stream propulsion with high propulsive efficiency, as high as that achieved by teleost fishes. Investigation of the effect of Reynolds number indicates that the Froude efficiency increases with increasing Reynolds number with no ceiling in generating the jet-stream propulsion. Further studies using tadpole- and fish-shaped models with hindlimbs added to their body profiles reveal that the tadpole shape ­ a globose head with a tapered tail and hindlimbs at the base of the tail ­ allows tadpoles, but not fish, to develop hindlimbs with very little handicap on propulsion. The shapes and kinematics of tadpoles appear to be specially adapted to the requirement of these organisms to transform into frogs.